Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Labyrinth Retreats in Alaska!

"Come to Juneau and facilitate a labyrinth retreat for our book group," Margie said.
"Come to Juneau and facilitate a labyrinth retreat for our book group, too." Sue said.
... Each friend generously offering to help me reach my certification requirement of three labyrinth facilitations within a year of my training.

I hesitated only briefly, wondering if we could actually make it happen.  But with these former teachers, along with friend Debbie in charge, I should have known better. Of course, they would masterfully organize the date, time, place, invitations, plane reservations, and all-important, "What should we have for lunch?"
They planned it, and I showed up.

In Juneau, Alaska!
Our family's home for nine years.
Still the home of dear friends and
pristine beauty that
uplifts and calms,
all in the same
deep breath.

The first labyrinth I ever walked.  
As I stood at the entrance the day before the retreats, I felt honored to be in her presence once again.  She felt like another Juneau friend, greeting me with a cheerful, "I've missed you!  Let's take a walk and catch up." 

The labyrinth gathered together sixteen women on Friday

and fifteen on Saturday.

Women who came for their own reasons - to learn, reflect, be present to themselves, spend a day in the company of other women they enjoy and respect, to discover what they were meant to discover. 

During the morning and afternoon labyrinth walks, the women circled from the entrance to the center and back, all on the same path, each on her own journey.

As the facilitator, I remained at the entrance, spacing the walkers, "holding the space."
Aware of footsteps,
  the constant
of women. 
Grateful to be among them.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th, Twelve Years Later

It's hazy in Lower Manhattan today as I take this picture, at 8:46 am, when American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Twelve years ago.

Drew and I look at the new One World Trade Center ("Freedom Tower") from our windows, reminded every day of what used to stand in its place.

This is our third September 11th to live in Manhattan.  On the 10th anniversary, there was pomp with presidents and a public outpouring of remembrance and shared grief.  I posted a blog that day titled "Remember to Love," tied a white ribbon on the fence around St. Paul's Chapel and walked its labyrinth in silence. Today, the ceremony at Ground Zero is described as a time for quiet reflection, focusing on the families.  The victims will speak to us, once again, as their names are read by the loved ones they left.

Those of us who live "in the neighborhood" walk by the site often. . . Drew every morning on his way to work.  We watch the progress as the new tower inches up towards completion. But it's not until I go into the Memorial that I feel the loss.

Of the many pictures I've taken of the area, there is one that overwhelms me with the humanness of that day, beyond the buildings, beyond the planes, beyond the madness I can never understand.

A wall of pictures, a blur of faces, all dead.  

My friends Polly and Mary, gazed into the faces at the 9/11 Tribute Center, when they visited in April 2012.  We looked at each other, shook our heads, and reached for the box of tissues on a bench nearby.  We had no words to express the sadness.  Who does?

As the haze gradually lifts, I go on with my day.  I say a prayer for those families gathered close by, who, so bravely, go on with their lives.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beyond Cornfields and Hay

I'm sure that I've said, and heard, the word "Journey" a hundred, or even hundreds of times in the last week.  That makes sense considering I flew 1000 miles, drove 1300, then flew 1000 back, to walk labyrinths and  talk to their creators in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.  But, the reason I continue to use the "J" word is because it signifies more than a trip, where the goal is to get from A to B. It's a clue that something happens inside the traveler, a passage, a change, somehow different than when she started.  And it can happen without leaving home.

I've now visited an outdoor labyrinth, envisioned and/or created by a woman (or women), in 30 states. But on this trip, I had hours of opportunities to reflect beyond my own journey, to the journeys of the women I was visiting.  

Hours in the company of corn. . .

                    and hay.


In Minnesota, Kate Raatz told me of her journey to find a home with enough land to build a labyrinth for walking meditation.  She finally found the right spot in Elk River and mowed a 140 foot labyrinth in her front yard.

Sister Gemma Peters in Bismarck, North Dakota, has been on a spiritual journey as a nun for 62 years.  She helped plan and create the prairie labyrinth at the Annunciation Monastery.

Two mothers who lost sons continue their journey of healing.  Jeannie Ammon and Carol Baum built a labyrinth in the Dell Rapids, South Dakota Cemetery, and it has grown into the Mothers' Healing Garden, a place for all in need of healing.

On a 160-acre family farm in Hubbard, Iowa, Mary Dreir has built three labyrinths -- a Chartres, a spiral, and her favorite, the classical... in the prairie (picture of the entrance taken just before sunrise). The labyrinths were the beginning of her journey to create Soul of the Prairie, where people can come for a "quiet space."  

I add their faces to my map, their journeys to my life and continue. Later this month, I travel to Washington, Montana and Idaho, following a trip to facilitate two labyrinth retreats with dear friends in Juneau, Alaska.  The labyrinth is taking me to places I would have never guessed, including into my self.

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