Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reflections on a Labyrinth

I had never walked a real labyrinth before. The closest I had come was one that friends had made in their field. It was a "real" labyrinth, to be sure. And a lovely experience. But one could never quite see the center through the tall grasses, nor could we see where we were or where we were going. So when I learned that New Harmony, Indiana, had a labyrinth modeled after the one in Chartres, I knew I had to go.

And I knew I had to go alone. I wanted to walk with no distractions, not worry whether I was slowing anyone down and be able to contemplate whatever came to mind during that time. So, on an early Saturday morning, I walked the few blocks down the street to have the experience.

Labyrinths have been used for more than four thousand years in many cultural traditions. The New Harmony "Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden" was completed "as the new millennium began with the hope that many will walk the ancient path well into the 21st century."

The accompanying brochure explains that as one walks the path, they purposefully enter a space where there is order and reason. There are no deceptions on the path or tricks or dead ends. One follows it in faith, having the opportunity to look within while moving toward the center, then retracing the way to the beginning.

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. How hard is it to follow a path to the center and walk out again? What could possibly come to mind. But I'm game, and -- with shoes off, as suggested -- I set out, somewhat mindful of the suggestions for the walk that the brochure suggested -- essentially bringing one's self to a personal center or intent. One of the suggestions was to "think of the labyrinth as a methapor for your life with its many turns and winding nature."

But initially, all I could think of was how the granite felt under my feet, how it changed temperature from cool in the shade to warm in the spots kissed by the sun. I was incredibly aware of my senses -- the morning stillness, broken only by the birds trilling their early morning songs and the sound of the Orpheus Fountain at the edge of the labyrinth.

As I moved through, I was struck by the patterns, the sense of closing in on the rose center but then being pulled back into the perimeter. I was in awe of those who created this symmetrical pattern -- a puzzle without a trick.

But then I began to realize that this was not unlike life. We have a goal -- the center of the labyrinth, if you will. Perhaps that is happiness or peace of mind, perhaps something more tangible. We move forward toward the goal -- and yet for whatever reason, circumstances take us away from it, back to the perimeter, back to a maze that appears far from the desired end.

Consider the right professional path, for example -- studying to learn, applying for jobs, getting one, but -- perhaps the wrong one or having the wrong boss, perhaps you advance -- or are laid off. You may switch career paths to begin again. And if you are very lucky, you find the right thing.

It could apply to relationships as well. Actually, to just about anything in life. Getting closer, the challenge of being pulled back, coming forward again. Reaching the center.

But, it is only if you keep on the path, ever mindful to what is in your heart, what is around you and what centers you that you ultimately reach not only the center of the labyrinth but the center of your soul, of what gives you the greatest joy.

I've lived that walk every day. Many times I thought I was close to the rose center of my life and then things might happen to pull me off track, cause me to grieve, to rethink past choices, to evaluate. And ultimately, lead me toward a new center, the one of deepest happiness. That's where I am now. It is the greatest gift I've ever known.

Did I need a walk on the labyrinth to realize that? I don't think so. But it certainly helped clarify it. The experience was so profound and deep, it's been difficult to speak about and to share. And yet, now I can.

I don't know if the wedding couple Allison (Rick's niece) and Brennan walked this labyrinth during their wedding weekend. I suspect they had plenty of other things on their mind. But I hope they walk it someday, maybe even someday soon, as a reminder that their life will go in circles sometimes, that they may be far from the center, even though only shortly before they thought they were almost there. But to keep on the path, for it does lead home.

That's my wedding wish for Allison, that her joy be great and her heart fulfilled, that as years go by, she has found the rose center of her own labyrinth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Walking the Ditch

I realized that I hadn't posted much about walking the ditch this summer. There's a reason for it -- I haven't been going as often as sometimes and when I do, I've missed Harry almost every time. I only saw him once in the early spring, though other ditch walkers say they have seen him often. Must be the timing. I think I need to park myself on this bench and wait till he shows!

But I have had some lovely sightings this year! Take these deer for instance. I rarely see deer there, only once before (though again, ditch walkers tell me it's a fairly common sight.)

I loved their quiet, gentle grazing -- and the sweetness of the young fawn.

I was pretty far away, but I'm loving my new camera (not so new anymore!) and sweet zoom!

Bunnies about, too. This one was cautious but knew we were up to no harm.

Nonetheless, he remained tremendously alert!

Of course there are the ducks -- Laverne is back, eager to pose!

And so are her fellow quackers!

 This turtle wasn't out for an aerobic day!

 But it was fascinating to get a close-up look at his beautiful face and lovely shell.

 Of course there are lovely flowers...

...and beautiful views. One can gaze at the Monet-like lily pads.

Or, look at a wooded area where nesting boxes are placed on some of the trees.

And the woods evoke peace and quiet.

Peace and quiet. Clearly this ditch dweller found the spot a peaceful place to write in his journal. When I spoke with him, he said he comes nearly every day.

I don't blame him.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I've been missing in action lately and slow visiting and replying to comments but I am trying hard to catch up! I think summer does that to blog world! And besides, I've been having a little bit of fun!

Most recently, it was birthday weekend. It started out enjoying several really good acts at the terrific Great Lakes Folk Festival. We enjoyed the first night with our friend Mark, listening to klezmer while we ate -- then some blues as the sun went down!

We heard Canadian fiddle (my favorite), Celtic, Mariachi, Klezmer and more!

This event is funded largely by donations and corporate sponsors and is free to patrons who donate to the creatively dressed bucket brigade. Chicken Man is a fixture!

Then, the day before my birthday, Rick kidnapped me! He took me to a picnic at a mysterious location. Imagine when we drove in and I saw this summer stock theatre! I was thrilled!

We had a lovely picnic in a shady spot on the theatre grounds.

He was a perfect host! And it was fun to be in this lovely spot, knowing even more fun was to come!

After, we did the obligatory selfie!

Someone else came by for this one -- this theatre has a long history in southeastern Michigan. It was great fun to see something here (and I wondered why we had waited!).

Our selection was "Hair" -- definitely a period piece and well done.

After, the "Rehearsal Shed" bar was open with a fun three-act floor show. The theatre company did lots of musical numbers and keeping with the program, many were from the 60s and 70s.

It couldn't be better -- and that was the day before! On the "real" day, it was quiet -- a good time to hang home and gather basil and tomatoes! Rick made dinner, presents and we watched a movie. And then I've been celebrating all week! Indeed -- life is fun.

Mostly, I am so very, very grateful. Last year at this time I was still working and it had been an excruciating year, extremely stressed, in medical limbo. I had no idea if the year to come would be the same or worse. I never imagined it would be so much better. I am truly blessed.

 Many of you have been with the Gypsy since it started in 2008. Now it's more than a thousand posts later. (I'm hoping to have a celebratory drawing once my feet get back on the ground this fall!)

 But if you joined in later or are just happening by and want to know a little more about this blog or its back story, please visit Susan at Must Love Junk! She is featuring me as her "Saturday Spotlight" beginning Saturday, August 16. I'm just delighted because Susan has one of those decorating blogs that makes me swoon! The has an antique shop in Ohio (and was recently featured in Vintage Style magazine!). So, even if you don't look at her spotlight, do check out her blog!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Pretty-In-Pink Wedding!

I'm a little late on posting this one -- it's almost fall after all, and the wedding was in June! But I couldn't miss talking a bit about the flowers and setting of Kevin and Molly's wedding. It was the ultimate "Pretty In Pink."

They were married at the Grand Ledge Opera House not far from Lansing. The caterers would put on the silver and napkins.
The rest was up to us.

Rick was part of the lantern-hanging brigade. Another crew did the lights!

The favors were chocolate chip cookies made by Kevin's grandmother on his mom's side. She made 33 dozen and packaged them in pink and white.Those were placed on the tables with candles and flowers in the center.

The flowers! Oh, they were gasp-worthy!

Plenty of pink peonies, hydrangeas and roses.

And there were a few white spider mums thrown in!

I wasn't too sure about these tall ones -- I figured they were an accident waiting to happen. I am pleased to report no flowers were tipped during the evening!

There were also flowers for the outside where the ceremony was taking place.

You can see here that the men's ties and bridesmaids' bouquets and shoes were pink, too!

When we left, the ballroom looked like this.

When we came back, pink napkins were placed, the lights were dimmed and it was a magical pink palace.

And it smelled fabulous!

And really, who doesn't look good when surrounded by pink?

This post is part of Beverly's Pink Saturday blog party -- visit her link here to find other posts from lots of bloggers who are "in the pink!"

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