Imagine discovering a labyrinth literally in your own backyard?
Last week I received a text message from a friend and yoga student telling me about her experience discovering a labyrinth at the Shenkel Church in North Coventry. Walking the labyrinth was powerful for her and she agreed to chronicle the experience.
The Shenkel Church is around the corner from where I live but I hadn’t heard about the labyrinth either. I asked a friend that is a member of the church and learned that the labyrinth was built by young church member as a project for his Eagle Scout badge. His uncle Pete Wanner of Wanner Landscaping helped him with the project. The labyrinth is open to the community to enjoy. I had the opportunity to walk the labyrinth this morning and met Anne after my meditation. Please read about her experience below.
This morning, I finally took the time to walk behind our home to a meditation labyrinth. Yes, I know… meditation labyrinth in North Coventry? But yes! It was built as an Eagle Scout project by a parishioner of the church behind my home in a peaceful field. It is a simple design, nothing elaborate. But should a meditation location reflect anything but simplicity? So after my morning run, I decided my cool down could take place on my way there.
As I reached the garden, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read about labyrinths throughout history. I have walked them in gardens. I never received anything deep inside me, but they have intrigued me. At the arbor entrance to the labyrinth, there was a laminated sheet. It discussed the labyrinth and its history. It covered the connection through religions and cultures. It discussed how you enter with one mindset. Walking slowly and focused you come to the center, pause and reflect. Then you exit, often with a different outlook as you walk the same path. The sheet also mentioned how when you walk, you seem to come closer to the center but then are diverted outward not reaching the center but needing to walk more to reach your center. This can reflect our personal journeys as we work through problems, ideas, dreams, fears. And finally, it asked the person entering to stop, reflect and prepare for their journey before passing through the gate. It wasn’t a “skip right around and find what you’re looking for” statement. It made me realize I was responsible for the depth I found this morning and in any meditation activities I partake in.
At the gate, I stopped and found another stack of laminated cards. They each listed a mindful statement. I read through each until I came to one that reflected what I needed this morning. I realized there was no need to read forward. I took the time. I thought about each word. Then, I stepped inside. Slowly, I concentrated on the thought. I let the thought move with me, with each step, with each breath. I let it evolve and change as it seemed to have its own process. I took each step carefully, as slow or as quick as it naturally came. I didn’t try to control it. I tried to live within it. I enjoyed the trees with their falling leaves. I noticed the darkness of the gravel below my feet. I gazed at the sunlight and the clouds beyond. I felt the cold of the morning air. I lived each moment as deeply as I could and I concentrated on the journey I was on. Yes, I let things enter which broke my meditation. But I “forgave” myself and moved forward. When I reached the center, there was a peace pole inscribed in many different languages. There were two benches to sit on but they were covered in the morning dew. All the same, I felt the desire to stand. To feel connected to the ground, the earth, this space. I paused and began my journey outward. Different thoughts entered and left; Different feelings on my way out. No desire to escape the moment, yet a desire to begin my day… my week… begin from here. It was a lightened feeling. Not so much joyous or excited or energized, but present. I left the labyrinth excited to be able to come back to this space and to do this again. Not to do it better, just to do it again however that day dictates.
I had no idea how long I spent in the labyrinth. I don’t think I want to know nor do I need to know. All I needed was to walk on. To stay centered. To take steps whether they are in a labyrinth or on the street, but to live present in those steps. I can’t guarantee the same experience if you walk a labyrinth. I can’t even guarantee the same experience when I should go back. I know my mediation efforts haven’t always prospered but this helped me focus. It set me in a direction I hope I can find again.