Yesterday, I found and walked a labyrinth in Charlotte, NC. Located behind Myers Park Baptist Church on Selwyn Avenue, it is a permanent outdoor labyrinth and a replica of the medieval labyrinth found on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France.
The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
There are three stages of the walk:
- Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
- Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
- Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.
I discovered the labyrinth for myself when I was living near Edinburgh, Scotland. I find it a very gentle and powerful form of ‘walking meditaion’. I quiet my mind and become aware of my breath and allow myself to find the pace my body wants to go.
I am very much setting out on a new path in my life. Deepening myself as an artist and reaching out to other people through my art. I read something recently about walking a new path and realize that I create the path with each step forward. Its the difference between living a safe, cookie cutter life and living my unique, beautifully and wildly crafted hand-made life. I have long known that I am out of step with society and the world at large in terms of my values, high ideals and utterly unique personality and way of being in the world. For much of my life I have felt ‘wrong’ – too sensitive, reflective and just different. Through my art work, I have come to value my sensitivity and intuition. I also value the kindred spirits in my life, people who can take the time to understand and value who I am and who are willing to reveal their hidden and gentle Selves. As I walked into the center, I was mindful about each step that I took and the world around me. I feel that it is so absolutely right for me to be exactly who I am and also where I am in my current confusion and not knowing.
When I reached the center, I sat with the fear that I feel about entering into the unknown. A very big part of me would rather not even go there. To stay with the familiar and comfortable, even though it no longer serves me. Lately, I have felt torn between going forward and staying, going into my head and trying to figure it all out and how I can control it every step of the way. When I can stop micro-managing everything to keep myself safe and can go forward not knowing and even feeling afraid, that’s when the magic occurs. As my friend Bonnie says ‘Do it afraid’. Whether in making a piece of artwork, trying something new or entering into the space between with a new person in my life.
As I sat with the fear it transformed to an awareness of the present and that each moment is really all that matters. I get afraid of the future and what may happen, and this fear keeps me from being in the moment and experiencing what is. Which is never too much to handle and is often downright awesome!
I also realized that I have already stepped onto the path, just by being in America this summer and exploring options, deepening my connection with my family and meeting some astounding people.
When I walked out from the center I was aware of the patterns of light and shadows reflecting off of the labyrinth pattern, the sunlight filtering through the trees and the birds flying overhead. We are all on a path through this life, each one unique, yet each one is similar. Because we are all human and not really all that different deep on the inside. I mean deep, deep down underneath the ego and personality. At the Soul and emotional level. The artwork, music and literature that resonates most deeply with me speaks of the maker’s emotional experience or their experience of Soul. Such art work nurtures me and serves as a touchstone at times in my life. I hope that some of my artwork can inspire others on their journey through life.
There is a very good book ‘Walking a Sacred Path’ by Lauren Artress about sacred geometry and the Chartres labyrinth. The Labyrinth Society is another resource.