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WHY?, WHY?, WHY?

‘Why’ is the name of a small town in Arizona that I passed through today. It reminded me of a series of questions that I was asked when passing through US customs at Dublin airport a couple of weeks ago – Why (are you travelling to the US)? Answer: I’m on a tour offering meditation/pilgrimage. Question: “Why?” I can’t remember my answer of this point, except to point out that I would not be earning money. “Why?” the immigration officer continued at least a third time.

The officer’s probing then ended, as he was presumably satisfied that my purpose was not a cause for security or other worries, and he duly added a stamp to my passport.

Continued probing using a “Why?” question is a well-known technique in coaching and counselling to get to the root of a person’s motivation. It’s not an unreasonable approach for an immigration officer to take to, I would imagine.

However, to be on the receiving end can at times feel uncomfortable. Such probing causes you to dig deep and question your own motives, bringing to the surface things that might not be obvious. It can, not to be too dramatic, feel raw and soul baring.

Where my journey is concerned, I only know a part of the answer to why I’m doing this. A little has been revealed as I have continued my journey, and ultimately I like to think that my purpose is simply that I feel led to do this, gently testing this out with The Divine before committing to my jaunts across the Atlantic. Still, the greater purpose remains unknown to me.

Quite how the immigration officer may have responded had I replied in terms of”I just feel this is right,” or” I feel led by God,” or similar, I cannot say. But fortunately, that level of probing wasn’t necessary this time.

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THE BOY AND THE BOLO

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Birthday gifts are always very special when they are hand made, have been carefully sought out, or have been personal to the friend or person who is passing them on.

So it was that I was deeply touched to be gifted a beautiful man in the maze bolo that had been lovingly worn by my dear friend Chris Harrell for many years this past Monday. Chris is now bolo-less – my birthday was a surprise, and so he gave something that was precious to him, and now will be for me (I have been wearing it ever since).

Chris asked me to close my eyes as he arranged the surprise gift around my neck. It seems to me that this was a little like receiving my stole on ordination. Perhaps wearing the bolo should now be a part of my “in service” dress when hosting labyrinth walks? I think so. Thank you dear Chris!

BOUNTIFUL BASKET

A sign gently swayed like a mobile pinned to the ceiling right above the heart of the LAA labyrinth, where it rested yesterday in the peaceful and welcoming Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. “Bountiful Basket” read the sign.

I imagine that there’s another purpose for this sign being where it is, but it struck me as being very appropriate for those who come to enjoy what the labyrinth has to offer. Many bountiful offerings are there to be received by anyone who’s open to them.

So it was that a steady flow of beautiful souls made their walks. May each of them continue to receive many blessings. May the unexpected bounties keep coming!

 

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LABYRINTH TO LABYRINTH

I think that today may be the first time that the LAA labyrinth has been laid out over another labyrinth, although my memory may be escaping me. At any rate, another first seems right, as this labyrinth is always revealing new beginnings and firsts.

I’d not known until now whether laying one labyrinth over another is generally “right”. Quite possibly it may not be, for unseen reasons that we may never know. But trusting instinct and feeling should indicate whether this is so. A little ceremony that Christiana Brinton and I performed in Dallas last year to dedicate the three travelling labyrinths* as working as one was one situation where the feeling was right.

Today’s outstanding venue was the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix, where I was graciously hosted by the Very Rev. Troy and warmly welcomed by the ever inspiring and encouraging Robin B. Dilley and friends.

I felt great peace during the walk, but also a sense that the permanent, knowing Chartres labyrinth that provided the ground beneath us was acting as a holder, embracing us and its fellow (visiting) labyrinth with love and wholeness. Those of us who walked, perhaps unknowingly, may have been touched at the same time not just by one, but by the two labyrinths. So a bow and a thank you is due to both.

* The three labyrinths are the big green one that people walk with their feet, the finger labyrinth, and miniature scallop labyrinth that I was gifted and always carry with me. All are used on this journey in different contexts to set down their energetic footprint, and to serve as a focus for prayer.

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MOUNTAIN TIME

Time to dedicate the “little labyrinth” for the current leg of its journey today, and I felt a sudden push to take a short hike up a mountain trail in Tonto Creek, AZ. Short in part because I don’t have my hiking boots with me, but I’ve long learned that it’s not normally necessary to actually CLIMB a mountain to get a good view.

After a winding, labyrinthine path, I found what I felt was a good spot to lay down the labyrinth and let it do its work (accompanied by my usual metta prayer offering). I think that it may have much work to do on this leg, for which outings of its big green sister may be fewer in number as we cover longer distances across country (the two, and a third smaller labyrinth, act as effective proxies for each other). So too, the focus on healing for the land and wildlife that has so much come through for me in recent parts of this journey, seems very relevant now.

Following my prayers, I satisfied myself that life among the trees on a lonely mountain is good – I’d reflected upon arriving that the combination of God, a labyrinth, and me to be both the body that acts as carrier for the labyrinth, and through whom The Great Divine can get to enjoy their perfect creation is not a bad mix.

But then my fantasising and ego creep came to the fore, as it so often does. This was bear country, the sign at the car park said. In my flight of fantasy, were I to meet a bear, I mused, rather than not approach it or offer food, as the sign advised (along with recommending that hikers wear clean underwear), I’d rather hoped that she might sit down next to me, and perhaps I might show her how to use her giant paw to walk the finger labyrinth. Then maybe she might indulge a selfie with me to share with the world. “Look at me and the bear” – now that would be something to shout about!

I was then shaken back to reality, and began to contemplate my walk down the path. But not before stretching out my arms, closing my eyes, and swaying along with the trees, as the fresh wind breathed on my shoulders, and a hawk flew overhead.

Well The Divine deserves to have a little fun through us living vessels, I thought. And the fact that there was no one else around might have been a factor for my continued madness too.

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BACK TO MARKET

There can be few more special places to start a leg of a long journey than Santa Fe, NM, and few finer hosts than my dear friends Chris & Lisa Harrell of the Santa Fe Labyrinth Resources Group (of course, there are other perfect hosts too that look after me well!).

The Santa Fe Saturday Farmers Market was the venue for the last en route laying out of the LAA labyrinth, so it was doubly a fitting place to return to. Now in early Spring and with a slightly different location to previously, a full morning with the market in full swing gave a chance for many passers by to walk and bathe in the energy of the labyrinth.

Children were especially in good numbers, including one who returned with her grandpa to dance in the labyrinth three times (including an impromptu mirror dance with a lady that wasn’t her mum or relative!). Many photos were snapped, and happy faces shone in the sun.

Apart from the labyrinth, the real star of the show was Glee of the SFLRG, who played her mesmerising pan drum and singing bowls through a full five hours, enthralling the folks who gathered, and adding to a very special walk. A blessed occasion, and one that was full of heart–at the centre of which, of course, is the labyrinth!

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SING A NEW SONG

 

This beautiful starling offered me a joyous welcome as I prepare to start the latest leg of Labyrinth Around America. I had just offered my little metta prayer in the square with the tiny labyrinth that I carry. Conversation just after this delightful recital with a lady who visits the square every day to feed the birds (as well as looking after the avian crowd at Washington Square) quickly turned to our mutual love of gulls. But here it was one darling starling that stole the show. The recital itself lasted a good few minutes – this is just a very brief sample.

A MAGICAL TABLE

Sophia, a beautiful soul who came to an LaA walk at Cadman Plaza near her home in Brooklyn just a little over a year ago sent me today a delightful set of photos of a wonderful initiative that she engaged in earlier in the year…to make a labyrinth table for children.

Sophia explains that she had made a fun playspace under the table with fairy lights, all sorts of buttons and many textured fabrics, which children loved!

Here are a few photos (and I can say from looking at the smiling faces in some others that Sophia shared, that the table was very well liked!).

Thank you Sophia for your inspiring work!

 

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THE LIGHT THAT ALWAYS SHINES

I know that I might be called a fantasist to point such things out, that light glare on a camera lens or some other readily explained phenomenon is surely at work here – but close examination of a photo published on the front cover of this week’s “The Community Voice” newspaper in Sonoma County* reveals a light “portal” a little beyond the way out of the Labyrinth Around America labyrinth. Look again, and what appears as a halo hovers over the head of the young boy who diligently walks around the outer ring, to the right of the picture. On closer inspection still, there appears what stands out for me like a face, benevolently peering down on the leaving walkers, suspended between the two shafts of light of the “portal” (this may not be obvious from the image uploaded here, but I’m not making it up).

“Oh my God, Clive, now you really have disappeared away with the faeries!” “Go easy on the whisky! Stop seeing things before we need to have you taken away!” I hear you say. Well, I’ve probably been set upon that road for a good year or two now. Yes, it’s light glare, I know…but still not insignificant for being picked up by the camera. Could it be that the “portal” offers a gentle nurturing for the children departing the labyrinth and returning to their morning class? Might real angels have been watching over us that day, being as thrilled and enthralled as I and others were to witness the beautiful experiences that played out on the labyrinth? Might there be here pictured another host or holder of the labyrinth, one that always looks on, and who alone knows the secrets of the hearts of all those who come to walk her sacred path? I’m going to think so, whatever others may think!

*Thanks to Robert Grant for a great photo, to Mary-Rita Mc Elroy Williamson for making the contacts for me and sending the article on, and to editor Irene Hilsendager for taking time out of her busy deadline day to meet me, and for her thoughtful and delightfully written article.

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