Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the Road - Labyrinth Visits #35, 36, 37!

(For background about my labyrinth journey, please click on the "Labyrinth Journey" label, directly under the blog's picture.)  

Stretch of road near Clinton, Missouri
I've decided that I like, really like road trips. Pile everything I need in the car and go.  No airport security lines, baggage fees, extra legroom fees, "unexpected" turbulence that causes my blood pressure  and prayer life to soar.
And Oh the Sights You'll See! to paraphrase Dr. Seuss' wisdom.
Luggage in the trunk, snacks, water bottle, GPS in the console, audio book CDs neatly arranged in the front passenger seat - ready to pick up and stick in the player - sunglasses at the ready.  I'm off!

Last Tuesday, I drove down our Arkansas driveway minutes before sunrise, with 405 miles ahead of me to Shawnee, Kansas. The first stop of three on the next stage of my 50-state labyrinth journey.  

                                                         Interstate 40 to 540 to 49   
                                                               Speed limit 70 
                                                         At 80 before I know it
Rest stop 
Gas stop

The sun was setting that afternoon as I sat at Joy Freeman's kitchen table and listened to not only her story, but her family's labyrinth story; then stepped into their backyard to walk the trinity path, Hope's Labyrinth. 

From Shawnee to Lebanon, Missouri the next morning, the road slowed me down.  Divided highways and two-laners encouraged me to turn off the book and spend two and a half hours in the company of farmland.

I wondered who lived in the farm houses, about their day's work, their connection to the land.  I wished for time to sit on a porch, sip tea, watch the world go by. But knew I wouldn't be sitting long before a busy farmer would walk around the corner and say, "No time for relaxing! Pick up that rake and follow me."

I reached Lebanon by 11:30. Ellie Smith shared her labyrinth story as we sat in the living room, warmed by a wood stove, two cats and a dog named Ruby. She then led me past garden, pond, and barn, into her 84 foot labyrinth, lined with prairie grass.


On the third day the road wove me back into northwest Arkansas, to visit Vickie Hall in Garfield. Vistas of the changing season spread out and closed in around me as I alternated between hills and valleys.

Vickie's yard was covered with leaves, ankle-deep and beyond. She pointed to the labyrinth, but only a vague outline of it was visible. "How can I walk it when I can't see it," I wondered, as we went inside to hear her story.  She described its classical, 7-circuit design, the rocks lining it, statues, mementos of meaning scattered throughout. Determined to uncover it, I asked for a rake, and started what would have been a multi-hour project, when her husband, Mike, asked, "Would you like for me to get the blower?"

                                                          Magically, in moments, Vickie's labyrinth appeared.

Three more hours, and I was home. Snacks eaten, CDs finished, water bottles emptied; my iPhone  filled with Joy, Ellie and Vickie's voices.
Stories and walks. 
Stories and walks.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A New Life

In the past five days since our grandson, Robert Chester Alexander Lewis, was born, I've attempted to write about the day. . .
      Katherine's strength
     Andy's devotion
     Elizabeth's (sister) attentiveness
     my elation, as witness, 
        to our daughter
       birthing a son

Were I writing on paper, mounds of crumpled frustration would litter the floor.  Instead, the delete key on my computer is exhausted, begging for reprieve.

Why is writing the story so challenging?  Why do my words sound hollow, repetitive, trite?
The translation from emotion to syntax flat, like brushstrokes without paint.

Then, this morning as I began again, I knew.

Robert's birth is not a narrative.  It is a poem.

a whisper of words,
profoundly felt yet
scarcely voiced

for fear that their speaking will
the scared.

That moment when what was not,

A life

A relationship
A love,

and yet

sleeping soundly
in my arms.
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