Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walking the labyrinth

I wrote this about five years ago and thought I might share it again. Marilyn.




So, I’ve been in kind of a funk of sorts lately. Summer is ending. I had a great time at the children’s book conference but the phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook with a publisher wanting me to illustrate the next Caldecott medal award winner or to say, gee Marilyn, we want to you fly out to New York to meet with you about a series of books that we want you to do. Nope, fame and fortune in the book world didn’t have me on speed dial this week.
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As I’m looking at this website… http://www.earthsymbols.com and I notice a bit of poking around a labyrinth locator.
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http://wwll.veriditas.labyrinthsociety.org
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I get very excited! There is a labyrinth not ten miles from my house! Spiritual centering and enlightenment await me in big Celtic embossed cups!

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Now you have to know that Orange County is not Stonehenge. It’s not even Sedona or Marin. It’s definitely not like that show on TV. It’s a place where it never rains, there’re billboards for discount boob jobs and places named Bobo Loco. As I turn onto Galway Street, nothing looks very much “Galway” at all. Dried out palm trees, graffiti and a notice that the soup kitchen is closed on Wednesdays. The labyrinth spreads over a leaf strewn inner courtyard, the purple paint cracking and faded in the late summer sun.
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There are a couple of old guys hanging out in the cool of the corridor behind a metal bar fence. They argue loudly about the war in Iraq. Dang! I had hoped for quiet but hunker down and start walking. Step, step, step. After the first few paces toward the middle the path becomes twisty and turny making me feel like a marching toy soldier as I switch back and forth. The rings smooth out after a while as I wind my way, eyes down over trash, dead leaves, and a long yellow smear of dried hurl. Step, step, one foot then the other, step, step, turn. The labyrinth softens into smoother turns, step, step, step, step, turn.
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“Blow them all up,” step, step, step, “our boys over there,” One voice that I’ve dubbed the Loud Guy overpowers all the other murmuring…step, step, turn. Bird crap. Dried leaves. More murmuring and Loud Guy says, “It a maze, I don’t remember what it’s called.”
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Shit! I’ve been noticed. I keep my head down and keep walking.
“It goes back to medieval times. It’s for Spiritual Enlightenment.” he explains with knowing conviction. There is silence for a while as we all ponder this comment.
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“Spiritual Enlightenment” Is that why I’m here? What the heck am I doing? Step, step, step. My paces lengthen as I reach the outer rings, having to duck under overhanging branches to keep on the path. A few more steps and then suddenly I am winding closer and closer to the middle.
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Before I know it I make a last few turns and am standing in the center. The webpage says, “Upon reaching the center, remain there as long as you like. Some like to sit in the center to reflect.” It doesn’t mention that there is a drain grate in the middle. I have a childhood aversion to grates and suddenly I’m five years old up in the mountains and my parents trying to get me to walk over a large snow grate into the lodge. I stand with my red cowgirl boots, dripping slush and phobias as they urge me to cross over. It’s about a mile deep it seems to me and I’m sure there are alligators or grizzly bears down at the bottom. I think my dad finally carried me across.
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I look down at the labyrinth grate into the stagnant water below. I don’t think I want to stay very long at all. I like moving better than sitting. After a few deep breaths I begin the winding journey back. Step, step, step. The trip back is freer and my steps are longer. My Labyrinth Guide 101 says, “There are many ways to walk the Labyrinth.” One of which is with a prayer or mantra in mind. Today I don’t particularly have a mantra. I don’t have anything I particularly want other than the really important stuff that I pray for most days, happy home, happy family, to be of some use in a noisy, dusty world. To have my Toymakers book on the New York Times best seller list slips in there from time to time but today I am not asking for anything. Step, step, turn. I hum a few bars to “Be Thou My Vision” which feels about right. The soup kitchen guys are back to talking about politics. Step, step, step, a swoosh and a turn and then with a flash I’m done.
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As I’m back in my car driving I smile at the discount boob job billboard girl as she spills out of her strapless satin gown. She smiles back with perfect white bonded teeth and shiny black hair flowing down her arched back. The traffic rumbles along under the freeway past Wal-Mart and Pho soup places, burnt yellow crab grass and carnicerias. I realize that this is my labyrinth, my life, dusty and noisy, filled with too many people and too many cars. I don’t live in some green idyllic place with Celtic harp playing softly in the background. Ah well. I pull a few dried leaves from my hair as I drive. That’s okay with me.
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As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth,
so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.
To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over
the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
~ Henry David Thoreau



4 comments:

  1. This summer I wrote about walking a "labyrinth" in my journal. I think you'll appreciate the post. http://collagediva.typepad.com/truenorth/2012/08/forgiveness.html

    I need to see if I can find a labyrinth near me!

    Have a lovely day.
    Kathryn, Collage Diva

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  2. Kathryn, what a lovely blog you have. I remember reading about "finger labyrinths" that you can trace with your fingers instead of walking. I think that your writing words labyrinths are so fine and beautiful. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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  3. Marilyn,I really enjoyed reading about your walk. You are a great writer and will make it to the Best Sellers list in due time. Your walk is just a bit farther. Napoleon Hill once said...If you Love what you do and do it with Passion, you can't help to succeed. You have that Passion!! I love your doodles and Great writings!
    The Best to You!
    Misty

    http://cardsbygeyda.blogspot.com/

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  4. I loved reading this Marilyn. So true, how our actual lives don't exactly match up with the ideal! As a fellow Californian (Sacramento now, San Francisco for a long time before) I can relate to a lot of the "local color" you mention. :~) I love labyrinths too - there's a good one at Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, SF, if you're ever up that way.

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