It’s been months since I’ve put together a blog post. I always feel like I must have something incredibly profound to share in order to do so, but am reminded in many ways right now that if I wait until things are just right, it may never happen.
Through the ups and downs of family, personal, and professional life these days–when you feel like everything’s about to spin out of control with only one or two little threads holding it all together–it helps to stop and breathe. Seems like a simple request. In a moment of frantic frustration last week I had a colleague say “please take a breath.” At first I considered being offended “because she has no idea how I feel and blah blah blaaaaaaaah!” But then it occurred to me that when we’re experiencing those wild, clouded states of mind we’re not always able to see what we need, but an outsider can give a gentle reminder. This offering from my acquaintance did, in fact, cause me to pause and try re-centering.
So I’ve been finding labyrinths in the community lately and discovering the healing power of these ancient tools for spiritual growth, creativity, healing, and centering. We just finished an art project in my daughter’s K5 Montessori classroom making finger labyrinths to sell at the school’s annual Fine Craft and Art Fair last weekend. Modeled after the Cretan Labyrinth I found in the Montessori supply catalog, her primary teacher and I worked together to create a stamp out of wood, paper, and rope to make an imprint on Sculpey then baked the designs and made individual pouches for them. They were a big hit and I just had a classroom parent tell me this morning that her girls are using theirs in the morning before school to calm and get centered for the day.
I’m only now digging more deeply into the power of labyrinths. My mother-in-law has been fascinated by them and has educated herself in their potential for decades. She’s visited the Chartres Cathedral which houses the, undoubtedly, most famous labyrinth of its type. I knew when I created the logo for my business that this winding path reflected our individual journeys (whether perfect or not), community building, and growth, but there’s so much more to gain from this moving meditation.
Last Saturday our family visited the labyrinth at Alice’s Garden in Milwaukee’s near northside Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The focus for World Labyrinth Day (annually, the first Saturday in May) was peace. The intention as we moved through this gorgeous herb and perennial-lined labyrinth was to breathe in the world’s violence on our way to the center, collectively recognize our experiences as we gathered in the middle, then breathe out our delight and good energy on the path back out. It’s not easy for me to stay completely focused on one thought these days, but this practice was another noble attempt. I really did feel a sort of spiritual transformation with each cleansing breath. The trick is holding onto that peacefulness well into the day and the week.
Alice’s Garden holds weekly labyrinth walks June through August and has outlined a “theme” or intention for each week on their schedule.
Also near Milwaukee is the Eco-Justice Center, which maintains a labyrinth near their vegetable gardens. There are no formally scheduled walks, but one could inquire about a self-guided meditation.
Another exciting opportunity for a local labyrinth walk is at Calvary Presbyterian Church (“The Big Red Church”) in downtown Milwaukee. They hold open walks the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.
No matter how and where one goes to get centered–to a labyrinth, on a walk by the lake, in a meditation corner–taking a moment to do so is the most important step. Carving out even a small bit of time for oneself on a regular basis can do wonders for the body and mind. It’s not selfish (in case that’s anyone’s hang-up), but so very vital for staying sane and grounded so we can be at our best in this crazy thing we call life. I wish everyone peace this week and in this season of blossoms and hope.