The Mindful Garden Spiral
On New Year's Eve, 2016, I received a Facebook invitation to walk the labyrinth at River Road Church, Baptist in the west end of Richmond. I thought this would be a great way to close out 2016, a year of massive change, both personal and societal. I had never walked a labyrinth so it seemed like something worth trying out.
Their labyrinth is a scaled down version of the labyrinth at the 800 year-old Chartres Cathedral, painted on canvas and laid out several times a year in the church's fellowship hall. At the outset, you can pick up some materials to read about the purpose of the labyrinth, and how to be intentional in your journey around it.
The experience was profound for me, giving me a sense of peace. Yes, one could walk across the floor of that fellowship hall in about thirty steps. However, the act of following the path, turning back and forth numerous times till reaching the center, and returning out along the same path, brings a sense of contemplation, surrender and healing. It was a good way to end the year.
When I returned home, I wanted to learn more about labyrinths. I did a little Google searching to understand their history, and then hopped on Pinterest, where to my delight, I found hundreds of labyrinth images and ideas. Over the past six months I've created quite the Pinterest board for labyrinths! I thought it would be wonderful to have a garden labyrinth of my own.
This afternoon, I was out mowing the lawn with our push mower. We have a 1/2 acre field that used to be the kids' baseball/soccer/lacrosse practice field. This spring and summer, well, I was just letting it turn into a "meadow." I didn't want to bother mowing it. "Good for the bees," I rationalized. Yet, I realized that it had to be mowed at some point, so I made my way down there with the mower and began cutting a large square with the intention of going around until at least half the field was cut.
Partway through I realized that I could actually do what I had been thinking about all winter! The grass was now high enough that I could cut a walking path into it. To do a full-on labyrinth correctly requires measurement and planning, but I could at least cut a spiral pattern easily. And so I did! It's pretty "rustic," but I'm already thinking about how such a spiral path could be upgraded. Herb garden? Flowers? Mulch? Stones? I still have another half a field to experiment with, and now I have a spiral to walk, any time I please.