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Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth’

labyrinth cardinals

 

Good morning, Duane. I have a pair of cardinals for you today in honor of you and Marsha. They visit us frequently although I did not take this picture. But it looks like they are on our labyrinth arch. Tom and I walked the large labyrinth in the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France in 2000.

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A labyrinth is a quiet space….a sacred path….a metaphor for life….with its turns and circling….but the one path it has is never blocked, as in a maze….no, the one path leads always to the center, where God resides with his gifts…..and all the way in while you are on the path you can let go, accept and take your journey one step at a time, watching your feet place one foot in front of the other, and TRUSTING your Divine Companion is with you all the way.

Tom helped me build our labyrinth in the back yard. I will walk it for your intentions of healing.

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CHAKRA - 6th Chakra - Turtle  Third EyePoetry and SoulCollage® by Susan Heffron Hajec

Keep The Pace

And who is to judge
how slow one goes?
The pace of a snail
or the flight of a bird
is a response to the rhythm
inwardly heard.

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Today's Gift 7-26-15 I complicate things as soon as I get back inside but I do retain the gifts offered by my labyrinth walk this morning. I have been resisting walking and movement lately. I don’t know why. My inner critic ramps up her demands and judgments, but I dig ins with many ways of refusal So today, I decided to combine two of my practices of the quiet and walk our backyard labyrinth while I was saying my Sunday rosary. Sunday’s rosary is dedicated to the goodness and protection of Amy, my youngest grandchild. Each daughter, and their husband and my three grandchildren receive the blessings of Mary and the rosary on their designated weekday. IMG_6859 Upon entering the labyrinth, I am in my second decade of the rosary and I notice very bright fresh yellow and white miniature daisies greeting me. Just one patch It is enough to lighten my mood and willingness to step further along the path. They remind me of the fun times I have with Amy and how proud she was to fix our breakfast yesterday of egg salad, of which she proclaimed she is the best at making. I like the self-confidence and image she has of herself at the tender age of seven.  All of this is gift to me. Circling to the center Soon the circular pattern of the paver bricks lead the way both to the center of the labyrinth and to the calming peace of acceptance of being right where I am on the path.  No hurry. No worry. Just a breathing time for my soul.

The labyrinth Tom and I created a few years ago is daily present for my sight. And even when I gaze upon it from my kitchen window, it reminds me of gratefulness and I don’t know how this happens. It just does. It reminds me of a Oneness, which I might not even be feeling at the time I look upon it, but that is its constant message to me. And grace.

Now, as I walk, I pray. Random thoughts pass through and like in the practice of Centering Prayer, I hold on to none of them. I just notice them and let them pass. This leads to further stillness. Some kind of knowingness arises within as I walk that I am at a loss of words to explain. But then I don’t need to explain this. I only need to walk it. I know I am on my way to the center.  The center represents that elusive thing I seem to “grab for” in my daily life….some kind of certainty, some kind of acceptance.

On the labyrinth this peace comes as I notice the blades of grass, as I listen to the birds, as I feel both the heat of the sun and the breeze, however slight on this day when the temperature and humidity are rising. What drops away?  The plans for the day, a lot of the complexity of what seems to be my makeup — both a blessing and a bit of a curse….they begin to get left behind, perhaps to return once this labyrinth journey is complete, perhaps not if I am lucky.

WestBend Laby4West Bend WI labyrinth I have not walked.

I  have a personal story connected to the labyrinth, having discovered it through Lauren Artress’s book, Walking a Sacred Path. I had no clue that somehow that labyrinth path would lead me to training with her and walking labyrinths in many marvelous places including Chartres France, facilitating retreats, walking with groups, walking alone, and at last partnering with Tom to build our own backyard labyrinth.

Chartres Labyrinth

I think most of my walking experiences are somewhat commonplace. I rarely feel any profound “breakthrough” dramatic experiences while I am on the labyrinth, but I have witnessed it happening to others.  Journaling after a walk is a revealing time when you may not know how the flow of your pen or pencil is going to inform you. Perhaps an image flows onto the paper that you feel you are only co-creating with.  A simple walk to the center and then back out again.  Being present with the present.

Cairn watching over the building

Is it easier to listen on the labyrinth than it is in the rest of your life. One writer, Travis Scholl in his book Walking the Labyrinth, says that “underneath the surface….is a stillness…between everyday’s noise and walking it is finding the voice speaking in whispers underneath the whirlwinds of sound ” (in our lives).

I think that is true for me.  I see a tiny toad (or is it a frog, I don’t know) on the path on the way out.

As soon as I return to the house, I find the noise again…. in my head….in my peace turning to impatience….get my camera, take a photo of the daisies, find Ted Steven’s Animal Speak and see what he says about the meaning of frog,  finish two decades the rosary, blog,  fix left over pizza for lunch, continue your workshop preparation, oh yeah, write two thank you cards, and for goodness sake play with Zentangle today….noise, noise, noise.

Bird on the arch

Maybe I’ll take an evening walk on the labyrinth tonight and see how this day went.

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Labyrinth of Love and Life - 2

Photo and Book by artist and author Catherine Anderson
http://www.catherineandersonstudio.com/

“Dear Susan,

May the path of the labyrinth support and hold you in love. Blessings and Joy, Catherine 2014.”

Catherine opens her beautifully written and illustrated book with the following observation: “We are not all fortunate enough to have a labyrinth in our backyard to walk whenever we feel the call to connect with the winding path of the labyrinth. This journal can be a place to turn when you yearn for the calming path of the labyrinth.”

Actually, Catherine and I are fortunate ones to actually have a labyrinth in our own backyards. She, just outside her home art studio, where I have been blessed to both walk her labyrinth in peace and gratitude for what both prayer and artistic creativity add to my life…and I, in the backyard of the home I feel graced to have found with my loving husband Tom, to live and enjoy our golden years and our golden Michigan sunsets off our deck just above our labyrinth.

IMG_4284Receding winter of ’15 and the labyrinth reappears

IMG_1837SoulCollage Facilitator Training Weekend with Catherine, 2014

As happy as I am to have the labyrinth in our yard, I still find it challenging to explain its essence to others without going “too deep into the weeds” in way of explanation. I, myself, first found it through Canon Rev. Lauren Artress of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.

I was at a weekend retreat at the Dominican Weber Center in Adrian Michigan on Centering Prayer. But her little black paperback book attracted me in the bookstore, “Walking a Sacred Path.” Eventually, my sacred path led Tom and me to Grace Cathedral, where we experienced another retreat and I completed training in Labyrinth facilitation. We also walked both Chartres designed labyrinths there; one on the Cathedral interior floor, the other just out the door, on the piazza, high on top the hills of San Francisco.  Within a couple more years, we pilgrimaged, once again, to spend a week in Chartres France and attend a retreat on the labyrinth and Sacred Geometry, upon which the cathedrals of medieval times were built. We resided in the Catholic seminary housing right next to the the Chartres Cathedral, originally built in the 1300s, I believe. We walked within it and around it many, many times, photographing  ad infinitum the architecture, sculpture and stained glass phenomenon that it was.

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral is famed for its stained glass windows, the largest representations of Mary in all cathedrals and its labyrinth dating back to medieval times when pilgrims traveled to it for their annual pilgrimage when they could not travel to other holy sites due to wars and dangers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom and I were here in May 2000.

So what does the labyrinth have to do with our life and our love?

One simple way of explaining the labyrinth is that it is a metaphor for life…..this certainly works for me!  The circular pattern, once begun, yearns ever for the center. And you begin toward that center in wide sweeping circular paths and motions. You are free to stop anywhere along the path, for what?  A breath? A silent message sounding in your heart? A casual gaze upon the blessings of nature and people around you?  A time-out?

Who, among us, doesn’t do this in real life and actually need to do this? Not I, for I need them all to feel the center in my self.  Or the lack of it.  I may know where I am going.  I may think I know where I am going. I may know that I DON’T know where I am going.  I need to feel the Presence of the ONE who does know.

The labyrinth can represent this ONE, by whatever name we call it….for it has many. God, Source, Universe, Yaweh, and so many others.

The path on the labyrinth is not a maze…. you are never blocked once you have begun the walk. no matter the difficulty, no matter the shortness or length of the path, it continues inward and to the center. You experience turns, expected, and sometime when lost interiorly as you walk, a sudden turn appears abruptly.

These are the same types of turns, expectations, interruptions I experience in my married life. Certainly, Tom’s and my union and love resulted in many, many more changes of location than I would have ever anticipated. But on we went, supporting each other, working out the difficulties, enjoying the overflowing joys, and managing many, many times of “letting go” as we journeyed.

And that is what the inward journey on the labyrinth is about…..letting go…..letting it  be……trusting……willingness…..mesmerized by watching your feet take……that one step at a time……seeing only a small part of the total bigness of the path, yet trusting that it is there for you.

Reaching the center, we feel open to receive gifts…what gifts? Any that come, receiving them in faith. For our marriage, I receive the fullness of nearly 50 years of the commitment spoken in our vows so many years ago.  And just like one step at a time,  I know it was not a “once only” commitment to  I do.  No, for us, the words once spoken to us by a priest during some of our Marriage Encounter years ring very true.  “In marriage, you do not speak the words  ‘I do’  only on your wedding day, you speak and live them every day of your married life.”

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When you leave the center on your walk on the labyrinth, you walk freely, retracing the path that brought you into the center; it will likewise lead you back out to the world, bringing with you the gifts received in the center and being fully ready to share those gifts with others.  If you have walked mindfully, you are returning from the labyrinth reminded of who you truly are —  which is gift itself– and you have been gently guided back  in balance from the calming path of the labyrinth.

In truth, over the course of fifty years of marriage, there are many opportunities for just the opposite of calm and balance to exist between the partners, and that has been true for us. I have appreciated and strongly relied upon the people and experiences in my life that have built up my faith and my optimism in myself and in my partner and in our life together.  Because even with all the “rock ‘n roll” we’ve met along the way, today I can truthfully say…..

I count it all as grace and my heart overflows in gratitude for the life and love I have in Tom and family.

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Generations on the path Giving my thanks and love to Tom who has carefully and faithfully groomed our backyard labyrinth since we first put it in under his design and direction. This circular walking prayer path is a delight to have in place. In all seasons, it gives me pause for quiet prayer just from the window, enjoyment as I watch birds gather around and on it and memories of other labyrinth walks Tom and I have shared on Mackinac Island, San Francisco Grace Cathedral, and Chartres Cathedral in France, plus many other places. I am in the midst of planning a “Peace in Every Step” Labyrinth Walk in September to introduce it to the neighbors and my friends.  We will walk with the intention of planting more peace in our own lives and giving seed to more peace in our world and neighborhoods which are greatly in need of the growth of peace.

Greening of the LabyrinthGreening of the Labyrinth

IMG_4441Change of mind for the pathway; next year bent grass (like the golf course green) will be planted.

Deck blossems holding onto summerDeck blossoms holding onto summer

IMG_4284The path emerging from winter

Bird on the archFaithful bird watch on the newly added arch…

Birds do the walk…while companions walk the path

Bird reaching the center…and reach the center

IMG_5286In metaphysics, the crow is a reminder of “Follow-up” do not leave your work and play unfinished, ” and I take this message to heart.

Cosmic Connection vibrationsOn the walk, the pattern is entrancing and engaging.

Confusion clouds but path remainsChange and change of direction, like in life so many times.

Road is LongBut my eyes and heart see only what is in front of me…

Autumn Equinox  Sat. Night -even in the dark

IMG_0480My loving partner, husband, friend.

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IMG_0896IMG_0848And it all came together…I cannot imagine our backyard without our completed labyrinth.

Bringing in bricks

Cairn watching over the building

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March 25

We experienced a long, cold, difficult for many type of winter this year. Spring was a long time in coming, as it snowed late into the early spring months. Now that is past and we are enjoying the greening of the landscape, the blossoming colorful spray of flowers popping up everywhere, letting us know that whether nurturing or painful, these things, too, shall pass.  Always.

There are seasons of the heart and soul too and somehow within the past few weeks the season within me turned to rage….pure rage. In my prayer time, Jesus overturning tables in the Temple comes to mind. Something in me is overturned and needs righting. I am making mistakes in thinking, feeling and actions and for this I must make amends.

It is rare for rage to seek me out, but when it does, I feel frozen, not fire. It takes me awhile to deal with it and seek answers and guidance back to healthy spiritual and emotional being.

This is one of those time. Today I let the labyrinth teach me. As I awoke for quiet meditation (slinking guiltily to my prayer chair), I began to be taught as I made my first cup of coffee.

The crow was my teacher. A very large crow was walking the labyrinth brick on the bricks near the center. It stayed walking the circular path until it got to the center, hopped into the center, then walked diagonally across the labyrinth to the outermost circuit.

I looked up some things about the crow in Ted Steven’s Animal Speak and prayer time and reflection began.

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Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Through my thoughts, words and deeds, I have caused harm to myself and others.

I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

The snow began to melt. I had not felt forgiveness before now. It began to seep in.

Willingness

In metaphysics, there is a lot of magic involved in the symbol of the crow. Alchemy is the exact word. I recalled hearing and seeing the crow present in so many “cartoon” and fairy tale story. Usually, for me, it signified being dangerous in the witch’s concoctions and intentions.

But alchemy is exactly what I needed to become willing to release this rage and feel more compassionate toward myself and others. “Became willing to make amends…” says one of the steps in AA.

After breakfast, I walked the labyrinth.  Stevens says in his text, “Working with the crow can help you to see how the winds are going to blow into your life and how to adjust your own life flights.”  I need that help.

Road is Long

The road is long….in forgiveness and life….with “many a winding turn.”

I’d lost the magic and the cawing of a crow “should remind us that magic and creation are cawing out to us everyday”.  I read this and further…”that creation and magic are alive within our world everyday and available to us”. The labyrinth would be a good place to look for this and be open to it.

Confusion clouds but path remains

Confusion clouds but the path always remains.

Decision - the path or self-centered veer off

The fork in the road branch reminds me there is always the temptation to run off and hide from myself and others OR to stay on the path forging forward.

I need grace here to choose the path.

Choices Hindsight

Looking back, hindsight for choices made in the past is not a grace and is never helpful.

Focus on what's in front of you

Focus on what’s in front of you. “Lord, I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I believe that this is the road to freedom, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.”

Cosmic Connection vibrations

I feel cosmic support in the symmetry of the brick pattern, which always soothes me. Centered in the Center

Centered in the Center. In my reading of the crow, I come across these words. “The crow is a symbol that represents medieval alchemy,  ‘nigredo’ — The initial state of substance unformed but full of potential.” (italics mine)  Ah, therein lies the problem for me. I feel the sorrow of substance unformed yet  coupled with the knowledge that I am filled with potential.

Trust and Move along

I am told to TRUST and move along.

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The labyrinth is Tom’s and my work in progress. It is only an infant completing its first year. But it can speak and had a request of me. It asked for chimes to be put atop the arch. I share this with Tom and it had spoken to him as well. He has decided to make the walking path made of soft, bent grass (the kind golf greens are made from). We have changed our minds from pebbles to leveling the brick to the ground ( a lot of work for next year) and now the completion of that seems to be the soft grass.  I love this and feel it is right for our labyrinth.

Way in is Way out

I have completed my walk and I know this is a message for me.  The Way IN is the Way OUT. The Way Out is the Way In.

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” Thomas Merton.

I will pray and live my life with a new awareness of the crow and the power of both prayer and a walk on the labyrinth.

 

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Just for a little Facebook creativity project this month, I chose to take my camera with me on a daily walk and post a daily photo of my mini-journeys and get a little exercise as well. Today’s walk was on my backyard labyrinth. A pretty simple walk and not a great distance. This was perfect as I am recovering from a cold and I don’t feel all that peppy.

I paused as I entered the quiet walking path. I always enjoy the circular rungs formed by the bricks that Tom so carefully designed this summer.  As I began to walk the path in toward the center, a song started playing on my Itunes station (inner playing system, not the electronic version).  “I Love to Tell the Story” a sacred hymn we sang a lot back in the year 2000 – the Catholic Church Jubilee celebration.  I went on pilgrimages that year to Rome, Chartres France and to the Encuentro Multi-Culture Celebration in Los Angeles and it seems that is when we sang it a lot.

Actually, I don’t really remember if it was “tell” the story or “hear” the story, but it continued like “tell the story”  as I continued around the circuits of the labyrinth. So I will tell the story of my walk today.

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A labyrinth walk is a pilgrimage in a way, but not like the ones I mentioned above which involved all the intricacies of flight reservations, packing, meeting strangers along the way, being in and out of different time zones. It is just a common, ordinary walk on a common, ordinary day. It can bring calm and balance to your spirit. It can provide a space for an answer “to appear” to a question you’ve been pondering. It can be the aisle of a church for reflection and prayer needs.  It looks like just brick and grass. But that is deceiving.

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I was wearing Tom’s shoes. Perhaps that made me aware of blessings of healings to offer for him as he recovers from his recent skin cancer operations. I didn’t know that particular song was going to pop into my head (and play loudly, I might add). It might have had something to do with my earlier morning writing and prayer as I develop some writing programs to offer to the senior population of our world.

I had just experienced a “Spirit-Wink” when I came across a short E-course that looks like it would support my beginning curriculum for my course. I call it a Spirit-Wink because I just happened upon the information while looking for something else. So — you know — it just happened….yeah, and it felt just perfect, like I was really looking for it. That’s how I get help.  And I love to help a person find the extraordinary in what she thinks is her ordinary life and write about it.

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I am making a decision about taking this course. The fee is a modest amount and I just have to be willing to put in the work, which I actually was not looking for.  I continue to walk and I think the decision has been made. It was put on my path, the one I am currently on.

I see three stones on three different circuits. It makes me laugh as I remember my granddaughter Amy and her friend Logan who often play, run, skip and jump on this labyrinth. I like to build small cairnes (stone stacks) along the labyrinth when I am on it. It occurs to me, the children also like to play games with these stones and they are in these places for their own particular reasons. Maybe tomorrow, I will restack my cairn. Today, I just walk.

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Soon, I encounter a small obstacle on my path. Today, it looks small to me, but I am reminded just how large I can sometimes choose to make a small obstacle.

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Perhaps it is a matter of perspective, choice, desire and surrender?  Maybe some or all?

Things are not always neat and tidy in life, not in my life, and I assume for the most part, not in others’ lives as well. There is a purpose to be served in the existence of imperfection and chaos. They are the ingredients of transformation. I greet the grass that has sprouted up between the bricks.

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A playful grasshopper sprints and jumps upon the brick path and grass, hardly ever staying in one spot long enough for my camera to focus upon him. Now who does that remind me of? I’ve been one who has lots of things going on, many sticks in the fire, and a candle burning at both ends. That was then. This is now…..admittedly a slower pace with the glory of multi-tasking permanently filed away.

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I reach the center. I have walked the path into the center, focusing on just the next step ahead. I trust the path. I know it brings me inward — to the center. I understand that, once I agree to walk the path, I will not be stopped, tricked or betrayed into a blocked pathway. It may at times seem that I am close to and entering the center, then it swings me away to a far sweeping perimeter path, perhaps to the other side of the labyrinth. I continue. This is a living metaphor of all that happens in a human life:  Thinking I’m close, no, I am not there yet. Taking a longer, circular path, not a “straight shot” efficient line to the goal….well, there’s a thought. I just walk the path.

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As I start back out of the center of the labyrinth, my mind falls upon the desert and green lands of life as I’ve lived it. They are each a reality. But each time the experience of desert existed in my life, I was led to the green pastures once again.  Our labyrinth grass path reminds me of this spiritual truth as part of it was killed in preparation for the stones to be laid in the path. The stones will come in the spring.  The path will have a new texture, just as life always does.

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Leaving center and returning on the path out of the labyrinth symbolizes my walk back into my “today” life. I’ve received a lot from my labyrinth pilgrimage today without even going through a security check.

I return to the things at hand. Back to my writer’s table. Back to preparing for more work. Back to getting dinner cooking in the oven. Back to feeling grateful for my gift of life.

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