Stops for the little labyrinth around Coronado/San Diego.
I’m running behind with LAA updates, partly because I needed a little”shut eye”, and partly because I’ve been blessed to be enjoying some wonderful experiences. Few compare with the outstanding hospitality extended to me by Jamie and Leslie Edmonds when I arrived in San Diego on Monday–a remarkable setting to lay out of the labyrinth and welcome many people in the city’s famous and beautiful Balboa Park (Jamie generously hosting the labyrinth for several hours, to allow me to explore just a small part of it is many wonders), a guided tour of the city, lunch at a local favourite, and numerous opportunities to lay out the little labyrinth and let it spread its energy.
Were this not enough, another exceptional labyrinth experience was in store – Jamie regularly creates labyrinths in the sand on the beach, including his own cleverly designed Transition Labyrinth. I was awestruck to watch as he carved a perfect path in less than ten minutes, using an improvized tool made from Dollar Store trowels and a paint roller.
To walk this path was a joy, and unsurprisingly, it attracted lots of attention both while we were present and after, until (I suspect) the sea eventually expected to refresh the ground.
Simply inscribing the word “Enter” with an arrow by the labyrinth’s entrance made it clear what passers-by should do!
Jamie says that he often makes several labyrinths up and down the beach (In our case, by the famous Hotel del Coronado, where much of the film “Some like it hot” was shot).
I had a strong feeling that a lot of positive labyrinth energy was spread around the city that day, and judging by the joy and curiosity that Jamie’s creation inspired for some, who knows what seeds of labyrinth love might have been planted?
A little diversion today to (hopefully) help water a seed for a new labyrinth wish in beautiful Running Springs, CA. I heard about the desire for a labyrinth hear through this very page, and would like to think that the small footprint of one little labyrinth might help pave the way for another. Maybe not “Labyrinth 911,” but I did feel on a bit of a mission today…
Now passing quite close to the US border with Mexico in south-western Arizona, I’ve made a number of brief stops to lay out the little labyrinth on the ground and let it do its energetic work wherever it leaves its footprint. Usually, I have accompanied such stops with the metta prayer, but at times on this part of the journey, that hasn’t seemed right.
How we might lift up players to avoid being divisive and making assumptions about what healing and change may be needed in connection with asylum seekers, other migrants and border protection is the focus for prayer for A Prayer for America (http://www.aprayerforamerica.net/) this month. You can watch my short introductory video suggesting possible “ways in” for prayer here, https://youtu.be/2wW7aEpfUJs.
What I personally experienced today was to observe usually quite discreet border patrol cars some way in land, as well as passing through a couple of control points myself (including on Interstate-8). The patrol officers who wanted to check my ID could not have been more respectful.
The sensitivity of political boundaries came home to me too because I was visiting the territory of the Tohono O’odham people. Theirs is a people whose homeland straddles both sides of the US/Mexico border, and who traditionally have taken the responsibility for being caretakers for the land as a priority, while tending to be suspicious of the concept of privately owned land.
Partly for this reason, I have been very wary about laying out the labyrinth except where it (in this case, the little labyrinth) has felt right–and, as with my helplessness about how to pray for the very live issue of human migration and the border–felt at a loss to know where to focus my prayers for the Native peoples and the land. In this situation, I have just allowed the labyrinth to perform its work.
(Images include a stop en route between Apache Junction and Tucson). Journal note from 4/12.
This past Thursday, I journeyed to Benson, Arizona, having located a ‘man in the maze’ labyrinth on the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator that I felt just had to be walked. Following several hours on the road, I arrived at my destination, and was not disappointed.
Apart from walking the inappropriately named ”maze”*, I laid out my own little labyrinth close by, in order to offer my usual metta prayer.
I then plonked myself on a park bench facing the man in the maze labyrinth, and set about my afternoon meditation. With the little Labyrinth just behind me, and the large man in the maze labyrinth in front, I felt connected in a triangle of centres (hearts). I have often meditated outside the defined path of a labyrinth before, and simply bathed in its energy, but this experience of being in the presence of two was something new to me, and something quite special.
* Inappropriate, that is, depending on your point of view–the Tohono O’odham people with whom this labyrinth is particularly associated see the walk as representative of the sometimes challenging and complex path of life.
I usually like to make Sunday a “day of rest” – not specifically for any religious reason (although the Biblical advice on this seems very sensible to me), but simply to have one day in the week that is different to the rest.
My way of resting is to generally avoid spending too much time online (leaving emails that can wait to be answered), not pursuing work projects unless there’s a need or special reason to, and generally not putting any pressure on myself to do anything in particular!
So it was that today seemed a day for resting from the labyrinth – labyrinth work can be exhausting, having an energy and power that’s often not appreciated – and allowing the labyrinth a rest too. “Just be,” was the hint when I asked in my morning prayer what I should do today.
And so it was – me, a little sun, an out-of-town park, and a quiet spot to lay beside swaying reeds, a gently stroking bush, a couple of swans, and Mother Gaia providing the massaging bedrock for my outstretched body. I’m not always good at just “being,” but when I follow this advice, I’ve never had any regrets. REST. PEACE. BE. May it be so.
Brushes with Nature occur all the more frequently, I’ve found, when I make time to notice them.
Yesterday, I made a number of roadside stops, to lay out the little labyrinth and offer the metta prayer as I continued with the LAA journey across the Sonoran Desert in south-western Arizona.
Right by where I parked the car, as I was taking the labyrinth out of the trunk, was a beautiful, playful tree, which just seemed to want to stroke my head almost anywhere I stood, swaying excitedly in the breeze. This was a very gentle stroking, and I immediately felt communion with this tree.
So having blessed it, I stood with open arms as if to share an embrace with the tree and asked it if there was something that it wanted to speak to me.
Nothing came for a moment, but then I had a very strong sense that its message was for me to stand upright, deeply planted, and reaching through the vertical zone that’s not governed by linear time–in other words, to stand tall “In the moment”.
This is what trees do, while bringing their wisdom gathered through observation, weathering, battering, and often abuse, over many years
‘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.
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!