For many years two woman have held the vision of a community labyrinth in Dorrigo, NSW. The site was on crown land, which wasn’t the easiest of areas to appropriate for the purpose, and yet with their patient persistence it has unfolded! With a grant for $10,000 and Bellingen Shire Council on board, the project is underway with a community gathering planned for the coming Solstice, an auspicious sign for us! Below I share my first walk on this labyrinth…
Russ places the last paver in the labyrinth and a fellow traveller snaps us in a picture. One layer of completion before us and suddenly we feel beckoned to walk the path. I stand at the gate, facing the feminine west, open to what I am to receive and what needs to die, as I take that first step onto the path. Before a large gum in the south that watches over this space stands a cairn of stones – an alter to this sacred site. Buried below, a Small-eye snake with a pink belly that someone had killed just up the track this very morning. We gently lay the body in a spiral and bury it in the earth, mindful that it represents transformation through the shedding of layers…
After a week of full heat, we had asked for rain to dampen and settle the site. Halfway in to the centre a few drops fall and then a few more and I feel my body respond with hands open wide to receive and a smile plays on my lips. Then suddenly the rain stops, the sun shines direct on my back and before me on the path my shadow appears en force. Something in me sinks a little deeper and I feel the smile slip away, as I acknowledge the challenges of this life in samsara . I step into my shadow and only moments later onto a cracked paver and feel, as the collective unconscious perhaps, all that is broken within. I am reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s words – that we must be ground and kneaded till we are pliant to be assigned to the sacred fire to become sacred bread. Or is there an echo of Leonard Cohen to be heard? Is this the crack where the light gets in?
Step by step I journey to the centre. Soon stillness contrasts steps. An eternal pause as I fall vertically into this moment, accepting all that it is. As it is. Tangible silence and yet so much feels said… Then movement is born from stillness and steps begin once again in the journey back out into the world. Contemplating the patchwork nature of this labyrinth from brick-saw cut pavers and its wabi sabi beauty, Akai is suddenly by my side.
She walks with me a few moments and then our paths diverge and I feel it foretell of the nature our time to be shared together. She is just a pup and yet if we both live to old age, then she will die long before I. She is back then a moment later nipping at my heels in jest and laughter sounds between us as I feel her adamant rebuff. ‘She’s got attitude that dog’ we often say and I wonder a moment how it reflects on her owners. Certainly there are times when I feel myself stand my ground from sheer stubbornness alone despite ever seeking the path of least resistance… For to walk that path is to birth such strength found in flexibility like the gumtree before us. Ever a practice is the middle path, to foster knowing of when to yield and when to step boldly forth with unwavering determination and unyielding proclaim carpe diem !
Facing east I exit the labyrinth stepping into the expanding masculine and new beginnings – all that is to be born from unfoldings on the path…
L. Seize the day.
Sanskrit meaning ‘continuous flow’: the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. It can also be translated as the ‘wheel of suffering’ as our actions keep us continuing in this loop rather than transcending it.
Japanese aesthetic – seeing the perfection in the imperfection.