Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Dancing Heart

I just returned from the beautiful Mandala Center in Des Moines, New Mexico where I led a weekend retreat/workshop entitled Labyrinth: Pilgrimage of Prayer.

It was a most incredible weekend with an expansive star-filled sky and full moon lighting the outdoor labyrinth set against a view of the Capulin Volcano, a national monument. We walked, danced and created both labyrinths and prayer, and explored our varied pilgrimage journeys as prayer experiences.

My work with the labyrinth has expanded over the last decade and more. I began using the labyrinth in my art, creating labyrinths on paper and cloth, and using the meadows as my artist’s canvas. I explored these paths for my personal enrichment and spiritual awareness, but soon found myself spreading out and engaging others. Now I find myself in a rather unique position in the world of labyrinths. Not only am I a labyrinth maker, with well over a hundred installations in my portfolio, but I am also an educator, retreat leader and spiritual director. I have friends who are labyrinth makers and I have colleagues who are labyrinth facilitators, but I know no one who does both as extensively.

I love the creative act of making labyrinths and I equally enjoy the process of leading people to the threshold of a spiritual encounter. The more I explore and experience the labyrinth, the more deeply I integrate it into my life and my work. It is fair to say that the labyrinth symbol is a template for the manner in which I encounter life.

Metaphorically, the labyrinth adapts to so many varied situations. Is it that the shape resembles the human brain? Or that the name also refers to an inner ear organ of the body affecting balance? Perhaps the meandering paths soothe and cleanse my soul like the gentle switchbacks of a lazy river. Certainly ancestral spirits are represented in the labyrinths built from stones. The more I explore the labyrinth, the more uses and interpretations I encounter. I will await a time when the fascination ceases, but in the meantime the opportunities for expansion seem endless. That delights my soul and sets my heart dancing.