Monday, November 17, 2014

Connecting Around the Labyrinth

When I ask people if they have walked a labyrinth or know what one is, most usually think I'm talking about a maze. Like the one that Harry Potter fought his way out of in "The Goblet of Fire," or the cornfield variety whose puzzling twists and deadends have caused more than one lost walker to call 911. I explain, as someone did for me as a labyrinth novice, that a labyrinth is trustworthy - not deceitful. It is one path, the same path, that leads the walker to the center and back out. With the path certain, the walker can free his/her mind to meditate, ponder, question, notice.

Imagine my excitement this weekend as I rubbed elbows with over 100 people whose every other word seemed to be labyrinth!

Opening ceremony of the 16th Annual Gathering of The Labyrinth Society at
the Duncan Center in Del Ray, Florida

Not only were they talking about labyrinths but making them, from the contemplative to whimsical!

Peace Labyrinth
(designed by Lisa Moriarty; painted by Steve Selpal)

Pinecone Labyrinth
(created by Tony Christie and Ole Jensen)

Flower Labyrinth
(created by Tom Vetter)

Flamingo Labyrinth, of course!
It's Florida.
(created by Lars Howlett)

Connection was my intention for my first labyrinth Gathering.
Connection with others for whom the labyrinth holds unique significance, personally and within community.
Deeper connection to self on my continuing path of discovery.
RE-connection was an added bonus!

Catherine walking her backyard labyrinth during my
visit - April 19, 2013

Catherine Anderson, whose labyrinth in Charlotte, North Carolina was the 18th I visited on my 50-state labyrinth journey, was a fellow participant! The chances that I would select her labyrinth to visit in North Carolina, then meet her again one and a half years later in Florida, speaks to the connecting power of the labyrinth.

Sharing a peace labyrinth at the Gathering
(designed by Lisa Moriarty)

The challenge after any conference or retreat which transports you from the "ordinary" into a realm of possibility and inspiration, is to somehow fit your experiences into the rhythm of daily life. A quote by one of the presenters, Gary Boelhower, gives me a direction…

"The actualization of a journey is in the revisiting." 

As I unpack my suitcase this morning, I move forward with the next step -- Reflection.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Voices of Millions" at Ellis Island

It's been a week since my friend, Marian, and I visited Ellis Island, and I am still haunted by it. Haunted in the same way that images of Titanic's vacant decks and abandoned staterooms beg that their stories  be told. In the same way that the stillness of a Civil War battlefield, now peaceful, holds thousands of stories within its silence.

There are 12 million stories in the halls of Ellis Island, 12 million! Immigrants - some alone, others with friends or family - who passed through the Great Hall from 1892-1954.  Each with a story.

Perhaps it was the artifacts on the 3rd floor of the Immigration Museum that triggered my  imagination. Encased in glass, preserved exactly as they were found before restoration began in 1999.


Who lay in the hospital bed?
 Was she frightened, separated from her family,
 suffering from tuberculosis?

Who sat in the chair - stamping papers, asking questions?
Did the faces across the desk follow him home at night, or blur into oneness?
Perhaps it was the windows, now smartly shaded, where views of Manhattan meant a new home to one, a dream denied to another.

Or perhaps it was the faces.

Eleni Mylonas, photographer/artist roamed the abandoned remains of Ellis Island for three months in 1983.  "I wandered around in silence, letting myself be guided by unknown forces compelling me to explore unlikely desolate corners of the endless mass," she wrote. One of her photographs hangs on the 3rd floor of the Immigration Museum.

Ellis Island, now empty of the immigrants who came and went,  continues to be alive with their dreams. Our country is alive with their ancestors, approximately 100 million of them.

As Eleni Mylonas described it, "….the voices of the millions of people who came through here, building a temple with their highest joys and deepest sorrows."  
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