Category Archives: good faith
I spent the weekend at the Galilee Retreat Centre in Arnprior, ON. It is a multi-faith “welcoming holistic spiritual life centre that is an oasis of peace, care and comfort.”
While there, a person may choose to walk the labyrinth. According to the Labyrinth Society, a labyrinth is “a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation.” Unlike a maze, which is a complex puzzle created to confuse or challenge, a labyrinth is a single path with a clear destination. A labyrinth doesn’t confuse: it clarifies.
Labyrinths are not some New Age loopy out-there phenomenon. They are an ancient tradition, and walking one can soothe a scattered soul. Different people need different things, so there are no firm “how to” rules for a labyrinth. But if you’re unfamiliar with the practice it might be helpful to make use of the five Rs: Ready, Release, Receive, Respond, Reflect.
- Ready. Before entering the labyrinth, think about a question you have, a worry you’re carrying or an intention. Come up with a phrase, a word or a question to carry in your mind.
- Release: Enter the labyrinth and walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. Don’t overthink it. Just walk. As you walk silently repeat the phrase, word or question that you chose.
- Receive: When you reach the centre of the labyrinth, stop there. Spend some time receiving whatever comes to you in whatever way it comes.
- Respond: Leave the centre of the labyrinth and as you retrace your steps out, respond to what you received.
- Reflect: When you finish the walk, spend some time reflecting on the experience.
As you can see by the picture, the Galilee Centre labyrinth is grassy with stones outlining the path. From my labyrinth walk on the weekend, I learned this:
- The path is not always clear.
- There are weeds on the path.
- There are flowers on the path.
- Sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever reach the destination.
- Sometimes you think you’re almost there, but then there is an unexpected turn.
- At the destination just “Let It Be.”
- You don’t need to make the path.
- You don’t need to tend the path.
- You just need to walk the path.
- If you’re really lucky, at the end of the walk there will be a dragonfly on your shoe.
When I attended the Canadian Writers Summit in Toronto, Canada this summer, the daily walk from my hotel to the conference site at the Harbourfront Centre took me through Roundhouse Park. When I walked there my steps slowed, and I had to stop to contemplate the metal tracks and the mighty engines on display. I could not walk through the park apace. Something about the circular shape and the radiating rail lines gave the site a sacred feel. In slowing down, in breathing in the spirit of the place, I felt reinvigorated.
In the early days of rail travel, steam locomotives could only travel forwards. Toronto-bound locomotives arrived at the John Street roundhouse for servicing and light repairs. The turntable allowed the locomotives to be turned around for the return journey.
According to the Toronto Railway Historical Association, the locomotives serviced there were “so attractively maintained that their appearance became known among railroaders as the ‘John Street polish’.”
Today, Roundhouse Park no longer services locomotives, but it still provide servicing and light repairs. Like a forward-moving locomotive, I arrived in Toronto this summer and the John Street roundhouse gave my creative soul a “John Street polish” of a different sort.
We all need a little servicing and light repairs from time to time. Where is your “roundhouse?”
As a child I giggled out loud every time the Sesame Street Martians encountered another Earth object and tried without success to understand it or communicate with it. The ringing phone? Still cracks me up all these decades later.
But these days, when I despair about the harmful actions people are taking in the name of hate-driven agendas, I think those Sesame Street aliens illustrate part of the problem. Groups of people from the same galaxy but different neighbourhoods can’t figure each other out. Research in books leads to wrong or incomplete conclusions. Even if two groups stumble across a common word or phrase, the true meaning of what that sound communicates is misunderstood.
Sometimes the misunderstanding and miscommunication leads to a distrust so profound that people murder each other because of it, without remorse and sometimes with glee.
Sesame Street doesn’t provide the solution, and guaranteed there is no fast and simple one. But if the Martians spent a little more time on the ground with the Earth objects, instead of just descending now and then in their spaceship, they would figure out what a cow, a cat and a chicken really look like.
Perhaps the modern transportation and communications system of our big galaxy will allow people from different neighbourhoods more time to just be together. Then, perhaps, in time, understanding will grow and everyone will learn that a ringing telephone needs to be answered.
Exactly three years ago, on July 12, 2013, I posted a piece called “No time for time.” Perhaps mid-July fosters impatience in me, because lately incomplete projects irritate me. I have no time for time! I repeat the silent mantra, “I want it done now!”
The long-term writing project I’ve been working on? I want it done now!
My overdue house cleaning and decluttering? I want it done now!
Incomplete renovation work? I want it done now!
Any change in plans, setbacks or unexpected obstacles set my teeth on edge. On Saturday, for example, I drove home from my work at a local library with the firm intention of spending the afternoon performing a white wizard cleaning job on my house. I arrived there to discover we had no power; the passing winds of a thunderstorm had knocked a huge tree onto power lines nearby. I didn’t realize how dark our house is during the daylight hours of a stormy day. I could not see well enough to do an effective cleaning job. The cleaning had to wait. Grrr . . . I had no time for time. I wanted the cleaning done now!
I grumped and muttered and stomped around for the afternoon (my family dutifully staying well away from me) while I worked at allowing time for time and accepting what “was” in place of what I thought “should be.”
My thoughts turned to “coconut time” and the piece I had written about it before. Here it is again, in case you have any projects in the works that need time to ripen.
No time for time
When my son was 10 years old, his first zit appeared on his chin. Offended by the mar to his perfection, he pointed at it with a jabbing finger. “What is that?” he demanded.
“Well, now, I’d say that’s a zit.”
“How do you get rid of them?”
“Time,” I told him.
“Time!” He was alarmed. “I don’t have time for time.”
We live in a hurry-up, I-want-it-now world. We want to control what happens when, and manipulate the world to our convenience. We have no time for time—except when we have no choice.
Polynesian countries know the wisdom of “coconut time.” We can’t rush a coconut to ripen; it happens in “coconut time.” What’s more, we don’t need to pick coconuts; they fall when the time is right.
We can’t grow old before our time. We can’t rush a coconut to ripen. And zits, they just take some time.
For Canada Day, for Independence Day, for those figuring out how to deal with Brexit . . . a poem I wrote for my friend, Ellie Barrington, who is for the Light. Something for us all to aspire to.
For the Light
She sees in all people.
Divine Presence glowing in Every Body.
Accepted. En-Couraged. Embraced.
For the Light
She shines on ancient stories.
Enlightened Insights illuminating Ancient Wisdom.
Explored. Excavated. Evaluated.
For the Light
She makes for hurting souls.
Healing Compassion lightening Heavy Hearts.
Comforted. Soothed. Carried.
For the Light
She channels in a spirit community.
Raised Hands receiving Flowing Grace.
Transmitted. Shared. Reflected.
For the Light
She is called to be in a needful world.
Engaged Advocacy targeting Wounding Injustice.
Balanced. Restored. Righted.
For the Light
She encompasses in her very being.
I AM permeating her Sizzling Presence.
Blessed. Brilliant. Be-Loved.
“This Sane Idea”
by Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Intelligence begin to rule
Whenever you sit with others
Using this sane idea:
Leave all your cocked guns in the field
Far from us,
One of those damn things
“The yogi weeps because the world is profoundly sad, they say, and someone has to always be weeping for its sorrows, so that you can be joyful. Hand-carved in Bali, these yogis take your pain so that you can enjoy life. Known for their gentle, joyful spirit, the Balinese believe that sharing your sorrows lessens the load and sharing your joys helps you grow: so share your sadness with the yogi and share your joys with those you love. Holding his head in his hands, the yogi seems to be saying, ‘If it’s too much for you, please share it with me. It’s why I’m here. It’s what I do.’ Some feel that the yogi has either just moved into his pose of sadness and sorrow, or is about to stand up in happiness and joy.”