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Walking the Labyrinth

September 24, 2015

Walking the labyrinth

alone, I drop my phone,

my water bottle, and learn,

To walk the labyrinth

I must drop everything

except my intention.

 

*

 

Walking the labyrinth

with my partner

I learn when we reach the center

we had the same epiphany:

Growing Mandala Gardens

is an ebb and flow, a burst then retreat

and we must honor that energy, not force its rhythm.

 

*

 

Walking the labyrinth

with my daughter

just before she leaves for college

for the first time

 

I walk in behind her, after she’s ahead by a few steps,

and I’m suddenly seized with the urge to call out,

“Wait, we should be walking side by side!”

 

But I don’t want to ruin the moment

so I stay silent but am sad

that I’m not walking beside her—

sad at the symbolism of that.

 

And then I realize,

she’s on her own path now,

I’ve walked beside her for 18 years

and now it’s her turn to find her way,

it’s her time to walk ahead.

 

When we reach the center

we sit in silence on the stone benches.

She reaches down and plucks

a four-leaf clover from the grass at her feet.

We look at each other and laugh and laugh,

tears in our eyes and throat.

“You’ve got a beautiful life ahead of you,” I say.

We walk out of the labyrinth side by side.

She is on her own journey

and I will honor her path

every step of the way.

 

*

 

Walking the labyrinth

with my mother,

who has never before walked a labyrinth

 

I am several steps behind

nervous she will stumble.

She is aging and sometimes unsteady.

Holding her rosary

in her right hand, the beads

hang down, swing in rhythm

with my mother’s prayer.

I cannot see her lips but I know they are moving.

She weaves inside the stone-lined grass path

dangerously close to tripping on hard edges.

Appearing not to notice, she veers into safety,

back and forth throughout the labyrinth,

this pattern repeats as she repeats

her Hail Marys.

 

I am overcome with love

for this narrow-shouldered woman

who has shouldered so many pains

yet sustains the biggest heart

of anyone I’ve known.

This has been her journey, this

teetering at the edges

of tragedy, of sorrow, optimism, denial,

and prayer,

always prayer,

and I see now, how prayer keeps her upright,

keeps her from falling,

protects her from the hard edges

as she continues forward

walking her own journey at her own pace,

 

she arrives at the center of the labyrinth,

sits without skipping the rhythm of her rosary.

I join her in the center,

in silence on the bench beside her

thankful for my mother,

thankful for this moment

together in the labyrinth,

thankful she was able to walk

its entirety, unassisted,

this labyrinth I built to share

my spirituality with her,

hoping she might see

that though we pray differently,

we can both arrive at the same center.

 

She finishes praying her rosary,

looks at me and says,

 

“This labyrinth is very special”

 

and my throat fills with gratitude

as both our hearts shine from the center.

 

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