The Mowing of a Labyrinth

In 2003, I was present for a talk given at a day of retreat. The subject was “meeting your spirit guides.” The presenter was natural, down-to-earth and humorous. She did not exude an impression of being other-worldly or woo-woo. Her voice was musical and very pleasant to listen to. The guided meditation she led was an exercise for inviting our angel or spirit guides to come and visit us.Having been raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, the notion of angels guarding and guiding us was not at all unfamiliar. Neither was communication between people on earth and people who have passed especially for the purpose of obtaining assistance, which is what praying to patron saints is all about.We were invited to sit comfortably, close our eyes and follow along with the meditation. I felt ready, open, intrigued and a little excited about what might happen. I did meet a spirit guide that day. He imparted to me the message that now was the time, and that he was here to help me along a path of advancement in spiritual growth.When it was suggested to us that we ask our guide for a sign so that later we would know that this was not just our imagination, I asked to receive a tree to plant in the woodland garden before the end of the month. As the meditation was brought to its conclusion, we were asked to make a commitment to meet with our guide again sometime during the coming week and to keep that commitment.While my intellect acknowledged the possibility that I could just have imagined the entire thing, I felt myself to be on the brink of something new and very helpful. It was interesting to me that at home the next day, I stepped out onto the front porch to find a package of seedling trees wrapped in clear plastic, from the Arbor Foundation. I had requested as a sign that I would receive a tree for the woodland garden and here, as a seeming overstatement, were ten!I walked out to the woodland garden for the promised appointment with my spirit guide. I felt a little nervous and still somewhat doubtful. The skeptic in me wondered if anything would happen or if my experience at the retreat was just imagined, influenced by the presenter’s hypnotic and melodious voice, the seedling trees delivered to the front porch a mere coincidence. I sat down in a lawn chair, closed my eyes, and began the meditation.My spirit guide came to me once again. This time his message was about the labyrinth I had been thinking about creating in the back meadow. His silent voice was heard clearly in my mind: “Remember the labyrinth that you have been thinking about creating here in the meadow someday? Well, this is the year to do that.” He gave me his promise to help.When I opened my eyes and looked around, I saw the woodland garden in which I was sitting and the meadow around it. I pictured how it might look with a labyrinth mown into the tall grasses. I stood up and went over to the edge of the meadow. I heard the inner voice giving me directions, laying it all out before me: “See, the entrance to the labyrinth will be here to the left of these forsythia bushes. Now look to your right. You see that tree? That will be what you measure by. See, on the left, that tree? And look straight ahead across the meadow. See how these three trees together with the forsythia form a diamond? These will be your basic guideposts for the labyrinth.”I walked out to what would be the center of the labyrinth, between the two trees right and left, and straight toward the far tree. It was similar to walking out to the pitcher’s mound in a baseball diamond, with the trees that had been pointed out to me as the bases and the forsythia as home plate. I had counted twenty-five steps to where I was standing, at the center of the future labyrinth. I walked twenty-five steps more to get an idea where the far edge might be. I turned around and surveyed. The entire area fit perfectly into the space that was the back part of the meadow. I walked back to the center, then back to the forsythia. I felt reassured at having my guideposts already mapped out for me. It was a start.I knew I needed more information on the actual pattern for the labyrinth, and how to go about mowing it into the meadow. But I also knew I could trust that it would be provided. I had a spirit guide to help me.The next weekend, I did some Internet research to learn more about labyrinths. I found the pattern I needed, the Cretan pattern, also called the seven-circuit pattern, along with instructions for how to draw it. Still, I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about transcribing the pattern with a lawn mower into a meadow. I asked my guide for assistance.I practiced drawing the pattern with pencil and paper. I became proficient at that, but I realized that mowing the pattern into a meadow would not be quite as simple as drawing it on a piece of paper. I could see that the lines I was actually drawing were not the paths that would need to be mown; the space between the lines was the pathway. I needed to be able to mow the spaces between the lines, similar to a photographic negative. I puzzled over how to recreate on the land what I had drawn on the paper.Inspiration came. I “happened” to remember one page on the Internet I had seen while reading about labyrinths. Someone had correlated the seven chakras with the seven circuits of the labyrinth, and had used the colors associated with the chakras to delineate this. Suddenly, my mind divined a way to physically mark out the labyrinth over the meadow using colored paper flags on stakes, a different color for each circuit of the pathway. I could draw it on paper and then plot it on the land. I could then use the paper drawing as a kind of map, directions to follow through and around the flags while I mowed.
In a matter of seconds, I had gone from staring at my pencil-line drawing, clueless about how to transcribe it onto a field of grass, to having a very practical, workable plan.The mowing of the labyrinth was accomplished with surprising ease. I paced off the distances measured on my paper drawing and set out the flagged stakes as markers, tapping them into the ground with a small sledgehammer. I practiced walking the pathways between the flags three times. Once I felt confident that I knew the way, I walked it again, this time pushing the lawnmower ahead of me. The mowing went easily, beginning at the center and using the map as a guide. Upon reaching the outer entrance, I turned the mower and made my way back to the center again, widening the pathway. In no time at all, it was done!I stood and gazed at the pattern of the pathway mowed into the grass. Looking over my handiwork, I realized that this labyrinth that I had been inspired to create was not intended to be just a lawn ornament or a unique garden feature. It was meant to be used and shared.The next morning, I rose early and went out to walk the newly mown labyrinth. I knew that it is customary to make the walk with an intention. My intention was simply to be open to the present experience.The following morning, I did the same. I stood at the entrance, said a prayer and set an intention: to be open to direction from Spirit, to “what next” I should do. I walked along the path, not worrying about which way to go because, of course, there is only one way. The insight that came to me was that I didn’t need to know “what next,” I didn’t need to make any decisions. I just needed to move forward, following my path, and all would unfold along the way, as it has throughout my whole life. I came easily and almost unexpectedly to the center. It would be as simple as that. My message from the labyrinth on that day was that I only need to live each day with awareness and intention, and I will arrive at the place where I am supposed to be. It’s just that easy.It became my practice to begin most days with a meditative walk in the labyrinth. I had a stone bench placed in the center. Many insights and ideas, and much encouragement and consolation came to me there. I freely shared the labyrinth with family, friends and acquaintances. I no longer live in the house where I created the labyrinth, but I am grateful to have had the experience. I am even more thankful for the assistance from beyond which continues to guide me in all of my undertakings.

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