07
Sep
18

9.7.18 … “Looking for beauty all around us is a contemplative practice, an exercise in opening our hearts, minds, and bodies to the divine image.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, Red Boot Way:

Today I walked with my labyrinth buddy after the Friday Red Boot Way meeting. At the meeting, we talked around “Step Ten: When I practice these steps on a regular basis I gain and experience compassion for myself and others. I am compassionate.” As with most gatherings I am always amazed where the Step takes us.

Toni and I entered the sacred space. At the fountain, the water was a distinct chemically blue. Hmmm …

And then, once we reached the labyrinth, the devastation caused by the weed killer (Roundup?) was so overwhelming. We need to be better stewards of the earth.

Before we walked, we both shared/dumped burdensome thoughts. I was hopeful this would uplift the labyrinth walking. And it did …

I have noted many times that my walks tend to bring on a heightened level of awareness. Today, I noticed the crickets, the construction noises, and an ambulance siren. I noticed the barrenness of the area due to the intentional removal of “weeds.” But why are the hostas dying?

As I walked I was very aware of my need to stoop as I passed under tree limbs on the outer circuits, the first leaves of fall, the pruning of the bushes on the periphery and the survival of the fittest weeds.

I finished before my friend and I decided to walk the circumference, twice. I noticed for the first time that there is no space beyond the outer circuit to walk so I walked the outer circuit. The first time I walked counterclockwise and the second clockwise. In retrospect, I thought a better practice would be to walk once before my walk, counterclockwise to take my walk out of chrona time, and then again after my walk, clockwise, as I re-enter chrona time. My friend commented that maybe it should be the opposite to signify sealing and unsealing of the sacred space.

And here are a few thoughts that I have been pondering …

“Looking for beauty all around us is a contemplative practice, an exercise in opening our hearts, minds, and bodies to the divine image. In indigenous traditions, such opening practices often take the form of dance, drumming, song, and trance, embodied forms that Western, and particularly Euro-centric, Christianity has neglected.

I invite you to return to this Navajo prayer when you have the space and time to literally move or walk with it. If you’re able to walk, you might take off your shoes and walk barefoot. Move slowly, noticing the sensations in your body—discomfort, surprise, challenge, pleasure, ease. Take in your surroundings with a soft, receptive gaze. What do you see? Listen to whatever there is to hear—your own breathing, birds, traffic. You may choose to pay attention to one sense at a time or try to hold two simultaneously. Be present to what is. Walk or move in this way for several minutes or even half an hour. When you have ended, bow in gratitude for your body, for the beauty surrounding you, and for the beauty that will continue to follow you everywhere you go.”

http://email.cac.org/t/ViewEmail/d/E4725E955B98E0852540EF23F30FEDED/1DC1AEAE5E535C1F0B3A73003FEB3522

And this …

“To bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly. Parents need to bless their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God’s beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives.”

Source: Henri Nouwen Society | Daily Meditation | Henri Nouwen Society, https://henrinouwen.org/resources/daily-meditation/

Blessings.

9.7.18

25
Aug
18

8.25.18 … It’s called “sacred geometry.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Myers Park Baptist Church – Charlotte NC, sacred geometry, walking the circumference:

So I was reading an article the other day by a labyrinth walker, and he/she recommended walking the circumference of the labyrinth prior to walking the path. I thought that interesting. So at Myers Park Baptist, I walked the circumference. Why does it not surprise me that the number of lunations in each quadrant does not match up to my expectation…there were around 100? The artist who created this labyrinth followed the Chartres design but ignored sacred geometry, specially altering the number of petals in the center, 7 instead of the original 6.

People really analyze this stuff. It’s called “sacred geometry.”

“Only, how should one count, actually? The lunations around the labyrinth are made of circular parts which like gear wheels are built of jags and bowl-shaped deepening which are cut off in the upper part. I propose to call a gear wheel with a quarter circle on both sides as one element. Single components in the labyrinth are constructed like this, as the joints in the photos show (e.g., element 58 middle part at top).

The blue drawn unity should be counted as one element. If one applies this to the complete labyrinth, 114 elements arise in the closed labyrinth. If one cuts out one for the entrance, we have 113 remaining elements.�One could also count the “bowls” instead of the “peaks”. Then we would have 112 complete and two half parts (at the entrance). However, all together we would have again 113 items.”

Source: How many Lunations has the Chartres Labyrinth? | blogmymaze,

https://blogmymaze.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/how-many-lunations-has-the-chartres-labyrinth/

The last couple days have been significantly cooler. Thursday morning, two days ago, tied the record low for this time of year at 55°. I had heard that summer would return, and, voilà, it was here today.

There’s not much to hear this morning, the sounds of traffic on Roswell Road, of crickets and of a few birds. The sun w bright overhead.

I mentioned a few days ago that there is now a Friendship Garden over in the corner. I checked it out today. I looked through pictures from years of walks, no garden or fence in March 2018.

And here is the Facebook Post of Clive Johnson to The Labyrinth Society page on 8/19/18:

EVER DECREASING (AND INCREASING) CIRCLES

I’ve been reading Patrick Adrian’s deeply thought-provoking book, “Labyrinths and their Secrets”. In it, he talks about the power of the spiral, a path which you follow without needing to change direction. It got me wondering about the power and mystery of walking a spiral, and indeed, walking a circle. This seemed the place* to pose the questions – what are our experiences of walking a spiral? Archetypally and in other ways, what might be different about walking one as opposed to walking a labyrinth?

I think my own experience of walking a spiral is quite limited, mainly involving a ritual of taking something or a question into the centre, and/or bringing something out. As a pattern, it may well speak to the subconscious in some way, as may all the archetypes of different labyrinth patterns. With a spiral, like with a labyrinth, there is a centre to connect with, and a going in and a coming out, while a circle seems more about containing or making or holding a border. But maybe I’m making an assumption about this?

In hosting labyrinth walks, the practice of walking a circle is much more familiar to me, as I usually circle the labyrinth when holding the space. This seems to connect me with the labyrinth ‘s energy and, when also reciting the loving kindness (metta) prayer, which starts with a small focus such as a single person or place, and then expands out to a larger group or geography, I do tend to start a bit of an outward spiral with this. So there does seem to me to be something meaningful about walking a non-twisting path.

I’m curious to know what other thoughts and experiences we may have. Are there many spirals out there as there are labyrinths, or are they, along with the circle, so fundamentally a part of our natural navigation that there’s little need for a printed path to follow?

And just one further question that came to my mind while pondering this topic (maybe I should give this a try) – has anyone had experience of walking a spiral with three and a half rings? This, in the form of a coiled snake, is the symbol of the Kundalini that is usually dormant within us, I believe. Would walking out from the centre be a practice for allowing the Kundalini energy to rise?

Nature has its many spirals too, of course, from the intricate swirls of a millions-year-old shell, to the great swirls of the cosmos. Awe inspiring.

* I will cross-post in the Labyrinths in Britain group too, as not everyone there is connected with TLS (do join, you lot – you are missing a lot, including two wonderful labyrinth journals! There, my TLS regional rep’s job done for today!).

8.25.18

24
Aug
18

8.24.18 … “Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make.” – Abraham Cowley (English Poet 1618-1667)

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, Red Boot Way, Camino de Santiago:

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, Red Boot Way, Camino de Santiago:

This post is going to ramble.

After attending the 7:15 AM weekly Red Boot Way Meeting where we focused on Step Eight (I approach my life and those in it with wonder and curiosity. I am curious), I headed over to Avondale for a quick walk at the Labyrinth.

But first, at the Red Boot Way Meeting, I listened more than talked, and the words I heard repeatedly were curious, joy, judgment, empathy, South Africa. I love this group and our conversations.

As I left the group, and as I was headed to a coffee gathering with a several friends to discuss our shared experiences as pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, I made time for a quick walk at Avondale. I quickly realized that someone had used Round Up to get rid of the weeds that I have commented on all spring and summer. And that took me back to my earlier RBW conversation where the Round Up judgment was mentioned, a judgment in excess of $300 million , and I have no idea why it came up. Curious.

There were lots of sounds at the labyrinth today, primarily those of yard crews working both on the campus of Avondale Presbyterian as well as in nearby yards. I realized that this is not a sound of my childhood growing up in busy near downtown Atlanta. My family had a manpowered push mower and there was no such thing as a leaf blower.

As I was leaving Avondale, I noticed the circle/spiral walking feature in the adjacent part of the Sacred Garden. I recently read an article about these, I am going to have to find it.

I then headed to Mayo Bird for coffee. There were three of us and we discussed our Camino pilgrimages. It is amazing the things we had in common as well as the things that were different. I took my iPad and flipped through my pictures as we talked. I realized very quickly that some of the things that I noticed repeatedly as I walked were the domesticated farm animals, public art, holloways and in general where my feet fell.

And as I was preparing this post, I ran across this quote on William and Mary’s Institute of Pilgrimage Studies website:

“Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make.”

– Abraham Cowley (English Poet 1618-1667)

It is amazing how things come full circle.

Blessings!

8.24.18

14
Aug
18

8.14.18 … “who lived in pilgrimage from right now to the wondrous not yet”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ – Charlotte NC:

My labyrinth walking companion and I ventured across town to this lovely labyrinth. It was a second walk for me and a first for Toni.

As we walked in under the chime tower, the intentionality of every aspect of the garden jumped at me: the memorial bricks in the walkways, the 3 distinct circular areas, the memorial benches, the multitude of random cairns (intentional and random, an oxymoron?), the vine arbors, the hiking trails, the vintage baptismal font and, of course, the labyrinth.

Since our last walk together had focused on whether quiet and stillness were necessary for an optimal labyrinth, we reassessed the issue here. Although this church has extensive wooded areas, the noise from Harris Blvd., a virtual highway, was constant, and we as experienced walkers could shut it out. Could a newcomer to labyrinths?

I again noticed all the details here, the stuff. Today the writings on the benches and the cairns, many, many cairns jumped at me. The antique baptismal font is a nice touch. Today it was a mosquito breeder.

I was amazed at the number of engraved bricks. These were important to Toni as she is planning a legacy labyrinth at her church.

The labyrinth was difficult to see because there was not enough contrast between path and walls. Today the shade/not shade played with me. And it was very difficult to see the path in this light.

I did hear the cicadas and air traffic noises and the constant din of Harris Blvd.

This labyrinth is about 40 minutes from my home, and despite being only 7 circuits, it was well worth a visit because of the clear intentionality by this congregation to make a sacred space.

And I still like this memorial bench:

In loving memory of … who lived in pilgrimage from right now to the wondrous not yet.”

8.14.18

And a few quotes that caught my attention:

I ran across the great intro to labyrinths: Walking into Stillness: Encountering the Labyrinth on Vimeo …

“It may feel like stillness created through movement.”

I ran across the great intro to labyrinths: Walking into Stillness: Encountering the Labyrinth on Vimeo,

<https://vimeo.com/146190759&gt;

And a recent conversation reminded me of Chicago’s oversized softballs …

I get it, Chicago. We are a prideful people who love the things that make us us: The lakefront. Deep-dish pizza. Da Bears. Marshall Field‘s (RIP). And 16-inch softball.

While I will steer away from the argument of which version of softball is best — 12-inch, 14-inch or 16-inch (I’ve played in all three leagues) — what is clear is that 16-inch softball just isn’t worth Nate’s sort of fallout.

Sixteen-inch softball crosses the threshold of what can be considered “reasonable risk.” — Josh Noel

Source: Quit 16-inch softball; your fingers will thank you – Chicago Tribune,

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-16-inch-softball-josh-noel-talk-20140824-story.html

12
Aug
18

8.12.18 …” What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” -JA

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Myers Park Baptist Church – Charlotte NC:

I’m really feeling the heat. And the heat, with singing bugs and the light breeze in the heat, seems to intensify my headache. I’m feeling very inelegant. So Jane Austen has inspired me here …

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.

– Jane Austen

And I notice for the first time a Friendship Garden? How could I have missed it before?

So I had to ask, what am I hearing? From this, probably cicadas.

By their songs

If locality and season are taken into account, the call of a singing insect can be used to identify its species. However, it is sometimes difficult to judge which major category of singing insect is producing an unknown call. In difficult cases, you may need to locate the songster. Here are some guidelines that may help:

Cricket songs are musical to the human ear because their carrier frequencies are relatively pure and low.

Katydid and cicada songs sound buzzy, raspy, or whiney, because their carrier frequencies are less pure and are higher than those of crickets. Cicadas call almost exclusively during daylight hours and at dusk, usually from trees and shrubs, whereas most katydids call only at night and many are not resticted to woody vegetation.”

Source: Recognizing crickets, katydids, and cicadas,

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/i00dis.htm

8.12.18

Thin places:

At the beach, I’m confronted with God’s creation on a grander scale. I look out across the ocean and realize that there’s another continent on the other side of this body of water, that underneath the waves are billions of life forms that we’ve only begun to understand and document, and that all of this is part of God’s creation. At the beach, I don’t feel overwhelmed by responsibilities; I feel overwhelmed by the beauty of creation. I feel free to read, stare at the waves and even nap! (I almost never nap, but the beach reminds me how wonderful that can be!) The beach is a thin place for me because it changes my attitude so that I am more open, at peace and better able to experience God.

Source:Finding God at the beach – The Presbyterian Outlook,

https://pres-outlook.org/2018/08/finding-god-at-the-beach/

NYPL, before we had the internet, librarians, libraries:

Before we each had a little, flickering encyclopedia in our hands, we had librarians, and they’re still experts at finding the answers to tricky questions. Through the Ask NYPL portal, a decades-old phone and text service, the staff has triaged everythingfrom queries about the Pope’s sex life to what it means if you dream about being chased by elephants. The library staff are ace researchers with a massive trove at their fingertips. A sense of mystery in their work comes when people approach them with vague questions and patchy details—particularly when they’re looking for books, but they don’t remember the authors or titles.

A few years ago, staffers in the New York Public Library’s reader services division drafted a blog post about how to track down a book when its title eludes you. This post spurred a follow-up, in which reader services librarian Gwen Glazer recommended library resources and a number of other strategies (among them are Goodreads groups, a sprawling Reddit thread called whatsthatbook, an indie bookseller in Ohio who is happy to poke around for a $4 fee). Thanks to Google—“how to find a book”—many stumped people seem to land on that post, and they have often written about their enduring puzzles in the comments section. The messages now number in the thousands. Glazer says she often arrives at work to see another 10 title requests.

Source, The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books – Atlas Obscura , https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/librarian-detectives-forgotten-books

Thin places, NYPL, before we had the internet, librarians, libraries

06
Aug
18

8.6.18 … And I’m still missing the old oak tree …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Jane Austen, perennial philosophy, Aldous Huxley, Lascaux Caves in France, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault’s “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene“ :

Well, it’s unbearably hot today. And I feel like frogs are over there croaking. Someone has placed some pine cones fortuitously for me to view, and I find an ant bed and some wild mushrooms.

Before I walk I read a chapter of Cynthia Bourgeault’s “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene“ which I will be using in my Tuesday Morning Bible Study this fall. I am not Catholic, so I have not paid much attention to Mary Magdalene or any of the other Marys for that matter. I will say that I grew up thinking that she was a prostitute… Maybe it’s because in the 60s she was portrayed that way in Jesus Christ Superstar. Very interesting.

I have noted before that one of my favorite features of Facebook is that it tells you everything you have posted on a given day through the years. In 2014, I was at the Lascaux Caves in France. Today, I found this quote on Richard Rohr’s site:

Some of the earliest evidences of human expression—dating over 40,000 years ago—can be found in the caves of Indonesia, France, and Spain. While the original meanings of these paintings are unknown to us, many anthropologists suggest “shamanism” or what we might call mystical consciousness and connection to the spirit-filled world.

There are no doubt significant differences in belief and practice between ancient traditions (as there are today between Christian denominations, other religions, and Native spiritualities). However, religious historian Karen Armstrong gives us a glimpse into what this spirituality may have looked like:

We know that shamanism developed in Africa and Europe during the Palaeolithic period and that it spread to Siberia and thence to America and Australia, where the shaman is still the chief religious practitioner among the indigenous hunting peoples. . . . [We learn from today’s shamans that] shamans have bird and animal guardians and can converse with the beasts that are revered as messengers of higher powers. The shaman’s vision gives meaning to the hunting and killing of animals on which these societies depend.

The hunters feel profoundly uneasy about slaughtering the beasts, who are their friends and patrons, and to assuage this anxiety, they surround the hunt with taboos and prohibitions. They say that long ago the animals made a covenant with humankind and now a god known as the Animal Master regularly sends flocks from the lower world to be killed on the hunting plains, because the hunters promised to perform the rites that will give them posthumous life. Hunters often . . . feel a deep empathy with their prey.

The images [on the cave walls] may depict the eternal, archetypal animals that take temporary physical form in [our] upper world. All ancient religion was based on what has been called the perennial philosophy, because it was present in some form in so many premodern cultures. It sees every single person, object, or experience as a replica of reality in a sacred world that is more effective and enduring than our own. [1]

Even in such an early, primal religion we can see the idea of this world as “image and likeness” of Ultimate Reality, and how the perennial idea of our connectedness with everything calls us to be respectful and compassionate toward all.

Source: Primal and Indigenous Spirituality, Shamanism, Monday, August 6, 2018, Hiroshima Day, http://email.cac.org/t/ViewEmail/d/5836994EBA39F66B2540EF23F30FEDED/1DC1AEAE5E535C1F0B3A73003FEB3522

Because for the last several years I have studied Richard Rohr and several of his cohorts and their writings on non-dual spirituality, I have become very aware of the term “perennial philosophy.” Anyone else run across that term? It appears Aldous Huxley may have popularized it.

Many thinkers have identified common strands in systems of thought and religions through the ages. In 1945 Aldous Huxley wrote of a perennial philosophy “that recognises a divine reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent ground of all being”. He said that it could be found in both “traditional lore” and the “higher religions”, in every era.

Was Huxley right? Is there an eternal truth, that we keep on discovering – whether it’s a “divine reality” or something better formulated in another way? And if so, what is its nature – is it outside us? Is it simply an aspect of the way our brains are wired?

Source: Is there a perennial philosophy? | The question | Opinion | The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/jun/21/religion-philosophy

And another quote to ponder …

For [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett’s] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.

― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

And I’m still missing the old oak tree.

8.6.18

02
Aug
18

8.2.18 … Amen to holiness, stillness, reverence, nature, simplicity, and grace on the path …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2018 Labyrinth Walks, Myers Park Baptist Church – Charlotte NC:

And now it is August. And it is hot; the cicadas are chirping and the cars are rumbling down Roswell, the residential side street near the labyrinth.

I am thinking of my son Jack and his great life of adventure in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. This week two father daughter teams from Charlotte are in the Park. For one, it is a first time for backcountry adventure, and, for the other, I think it is just one in a series of such adventures. I love it that they are interested in Jack’s world and that I was able to share and encourage these friends to go visit. This is an interesting peak at what he does: http://www.thegearcaster.com/2018/07/baptism-by-ice-in-americas-biggest-backcountry.html

I continue to find myself open to and moved by quotations shared by friends and influencers in social media. This is one written by a friend I met through Red Boot Way.

Take me now

To feel this holiness

This satiated stillness

Absolve me now

To see this reverence

This nature’s way

Release me now

To sanctify this simplicity

This eternal Grace

Slay me now

To forgive the path that strives

To be anything but this

Amen

Love, Sybil

And I take note of the juxtaposition of a backcountry adventure trip and a walk on a labyrinth. But I’m beginning to ponder the similarities.

Amen to holiness, stillness, reverence, nature, simplicity, grace on the path.

8.2.18




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