Archive for January, 2020


1.28.20 … “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice…”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Hobart Park @ Davidson College – Davidson NC, Davidson College 2020 Reynold’s Lectute, Bryan Stevenson:

I was at Davidson to see Brian Stevenson’s Reynold’s lecture. Mr. Stevenson is the author the prize winning Just Mercy which has been adapted and just released as a movie. It is a non-fiction story of his work as a advocate for those wrongfully incarcerated. I was very excited to be here. This event was in the Belk Arena which made it a huge event.

As I waited for a friend to arrive, I chose to walk the labyrinth. It was very dark over on the labyrinth and very difficult to see. Metaphors for my evening.

This Labyrinth has a modified Chartres pattern, and it has one full circuit around the outer most ring. I am a fan of the longer circuits which are half circuits on a full Chartres … I always love the pace uptick on those long circuits. I have to admit I found this one a little disconcerting. It just seemed to never end.

As always I was grateful for the time to collect my thoughts.

At the talk I was mesmerized. It was a community event, more diverse than events I usually attend. I felt pride that my college would make this event free and accessible to the public. The College stepped out of its bubble, and I stepped with it.

Summary of the talk:

Get proximate.

Change narratives.

Stay hopeful.

Be uncomfortable.

~ Bryan Stevenson.

Sometimes it is best to let the communications experts share the experience. Thanks, Meg!

Bryan Stevenson Preaches Justice | News of Davidson,

And I closed my evening with a long chat with a very old friend, Catherine. We love these events, and we love them because afterwards we can talk freely about our feelings about culture, race, art, travel, hopes, disappointments, religion/spirituality and family, etc. We can stay hopeful and plan trajectories … really.



1.27.20 … tomato soup and grilled cheese … year of the rat …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Maria Hernandez Park– Brooklyn NY, battery Park Labyrinth-Lower Manhattan NY, Harney and Sons Tea Shop SOHO, Banksy’s “Hammer Boy”, the Guggenheim, The Wright:

Another Google fail … I’m pulling up my compass from now on. But I did get to see the stained glass from the inside of the overpass at the Broadway Junction Station.

Because of Google maps, I spent about 30 extra minutes trying to find a well marked park.. But I did enjoy my time on the train. Molly and I had just been talking about “teddy coats.” This woman on the subway made my trip. 🙂

Right before I reached the park, I saw Harman Street.

Harman is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name and is part of the name of many members of my family. So I wondered who this Harman was. Intersting about the name HARMAN, but nothing showed up to tell me who Harman St. was named for.

 is a surname of Germanic origin dating back before Christ. Most notable, (Arminius) was the unifier of the early Germanic tribes against the Roman Empire. In lower German the name is Hermann; in upper German it is Harman. Its early name relationship to Arminius who was German born and educated in Rome was discovered by Martin Luther. Arminius himself is said to have descended from the lower german tribes on coastal Germany who many originated as fisherman from the British isles.

Quick Facts: Meaning, Region of origin …

The name, possibly one of the oldest known surnames, has seen many variations in spelling and is found in over 40 languages. Spelling variations also include Hardman, Hartman, Hartmande, Hermande, Hartmann, Herman, Larmande, Armande, Arman, Armmand, Hermman, Larmand, Ehrman and Armand. Additional Phonetic variations exist. 

The term “Army” is also thought to be derived from the name. This is not surprising as Arminius unified the german tribes and drove the Roman army into submission

But, once I found the park, I entered through a wonderful gate with a lion on it.

This park seem like a large hardscspe park with lots of playground equipment and space for dogs.

The labyrinth itself with located smack dab in the middle of the park. It was a nine-circuit Chartres-esq with compass markers denoting that it was set on a north-south axis. I loved having compass markers because I had been so disoriented by Google maps just a few minutes earlier. The compass was very orienting.

I actually enjoyed the people crisscrossing through the park who walked straight across as I was walking. I wondered if they had ever realized that it was a spiritual meditation tool.

And I got off the path. I think I was thinking about too many things.

As I walked, I realized that there was another labyrinth over to the side. Very interesting. I decided then and there that I would walk it as well.

The nine circuit labyrinth was disorienting, but then I realized it had you work the quadrants quadrant at a time; there were no half circuits which with the directional markers makes you think about what is in that direction while you work that quadrant.

As I entered the northeast quadrant… I realized I approached the center 4 times, and that I got a different view of the mosaic.

I actually enjoyed the people as they crossed paths with me. They had what my sister and I call railroaditis … They do not want to make eye contact …

The second labyrinth was really a bandstand and it had no switchbacks. It was 9- circuit, as well. I decided its purpose was to be a bandstand because although it was clearly a labyrinth to someone who knows one, without any switchbacks, it lacked meditation inspiring attributes. And it was raised up about a foot and looked out over the whole central plaza. Interesting. But I didn’t walk back out. And actually it doesn’t take you to a central area. I never entered the clearly defined center.

There were information boards for all the other areas… playgrounds, areas, dog area, but nothing about the labyrinth.

Next up, I tried to find the labyrinth in Battery Park in lower Manhattan. The last time I looked was shortly after hurricane Sandy and it had been flooded and washed out. After circling the park, I found a park map and it was clearly designated on the map, but when I arrived the gate was locked and everything was cordoned off. The park’s green areas were being refurbished in preparation for warmer weather weather. I will have to return.

So back I went to the subway and headed up town. First I went to Harney and Sons tea shop. I was intrigued that they were celebrating the Lunar New Year with a special edition tea … hmmm a tea celebrating the Year of the Rat ..,

“Throughout Asia during the Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year, people welcome a change in season and what it brings: new beginnings. To honor that tradition, we created this tea blend inspired by Nian Giao, a delicacy made of caramel, sesame, and coconut enjoyed during the celebrations. Packed in a tin containing 30 Sachets.

Ingredients: Black tea, toasted rice, coconut pieces, sesame seeds, coconut flavor, caramel flavor. Contains natural flavors.

I tried it … smelled better than it tasted. Not my cup of tea … It’s good I like their other’s teas. I bought 3.

Next, since I have always wanted to see a Banksy, and I had googled it and there was one still available for viewing in NYC in 2020. It’s covered in plexiglass. And I was not the only one… It was kind of a bucket list item.

Then back on the subway to the Guggenheim.

Quite a few years ago, I had attempted to go with my friend Kim and we picked the one day of the week it was closed. I had checked, and it was open, but I had not checked to make sure the main exhibit space, the Spiral was open. Just like the Neue Gallerie on Saturday, the main exhibit space was closed for the installation of a new exhibit opening in February. Lesson learned… So I spent a little while noodling around the three galleries that were open. They were actually quite interesting and then I got some very good tomato soup and a tiny grill cheese sandwich in the museum’s restaurant, the Wright. Actually, I would recommend the soup and grilled cheese sandwich, $12.

I spent my time eating my soup and sandwich and people watching. There was one cute family with a little boy that had so much energy that I just laughed to myself. And there was a family sitting next to me who offered their two children $100 if they could name the artist of the song being played. The kids did not get it… It was Chet Baker singing “My Funny Valentine.”

Then I made my way back to Molly’s apartment… The weather had turned while I was out today. I was expecting a day like yesterday, warm and sunny, and now it was chilly and had a damp feeling.

Another great day in the city…



1.19.20 … making the most of my time on earth …

2020 Grace Episcopal Women’s Retreat-Montreat NC, Sharon Garlough Brown, Table 13, Maude as in Harold and Maude, When I am old I shall … , Table 13:

There’s a poem entitled, “When I Am An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple” … ,

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

And this weekend I experienced a “when I am old, I shall…” adventure. I did something I never imagined I would do last weekend, I invited myself to another church’s women’s retreat,and Grace Episcopal Church of Gainesville GA graciously allowed me and my sister to come, and my sister and I went together and had a fabulous time.

We sat at Table 13 and fell in love with Gail, our leader, Clarissa, Tina, Amy and Caryl. We loved the talks given by Sharon Garlough Brown, the liturgical structure of the episcopal worship, the gentle sharing at our table and the sense of beauty and awe that enveloped the retreat in this annual winter mountain weekend of this authentic group of women.

I laughed that I might become a “Maude” and just go to women’s church retreats (rather than funerals).

“At another stranger’s funeral service, Harold meets Maude, a 79-year-old woman who shares Harold’s hobby of attending funerals. He is entranced by her quirky outlook on life, which is bright and excessively carefree in contrast with his morbidity. The pair form a bond and Maude shows Harold the pleasures of art and music (including how to play banjo), and teaches him how to make “the most of his time on earth”.”

So why did my sister and I invite ourselves to this retreat by this church at this place on this weekend?

Several years ago, Elizabeth Musser, a childhood friend, a missionary and Christian writer, encouraged me to read the Christian fiction of Sharon Garlough Brown. She knew I would like her work because she incorporates spiritual practices within her fiction. Elizabeth knew that I was a advocate and practitioner of labyrinth walking as a spiritual practice. In Sharon’s first published book, “Sensible Shoes,” she encourages and provides direction for utilizing a labyrinth as a spiritual practice. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Sensible Shoes and each of the other books in the four part series. This review gives you a good description of her Sensible Shoes Series: [Sponsored] Sharon Garlough Brown—Traveling Deeper Into The Heart Of God | Family Fiction

Last summer, Brown published a new book, “Shades of Light.” This book is difficult and inspiring. I loved it, my sister loved it, my friends have loved it. My sister used the study guide with a small group to really get into the book, Vincent Van Gogh’s works and the spiritual practice of visio divina that it describes and uses within the fictional story.

Here are a few reviews of this book, one by Elizabeth Musser the childhood friend referenced above:

“This novel skillfully tackles the dark topics of depression and suicide as well as the often misguided way Christians treat mental illness. It asks the hard questions such as how one should support a loved one who deals with this disease and what to do when our best intentions are ineffective in providing help and solace. Beautiful and haunting, Shades of Light is a heart-wrenching and necessary read that ultimately offers hope.” (Elizabeth Musser, author of The Long Highway Home)

“Sharon Garlough Brown uses the vulnerable, sensitive, compassionate, and creative character of Wren to sympathetically immerse the reader into her valiant struggles of coping with depression and anxiety. With Wren’s deep insights into the life of Vincent van Gogh, we are invited to participate in the illuminating potential of visio divina to experience the comforting aspects of Vincent’s art. Sharon succeeds in revealing what hides beneath the surface of the two wounded and kindred spirits―Wren and Vincent―namely, their compassion and their spiritual and intellectual depth. This is a book that compels us to be more compassionate and less judgmental.” (Carol A. Berry, lecturer, author of Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh: A Portrait of the Compassionate Life)

So, as a part of my turning 60 “when I am old I shall … just ask because the worst thing they can do is say no” attitude, I asked if my sister and I could come. And the stars aligned (great speaker at winter weekend before my birthday in the NC mountains near my home at a Presbyterian retreat center that I love) and Grace Episcopal said yes!

My sister and I arrived and we are assigned Table 13 … little irony there … And we must sit with these women for three days. This could have been really bad or really good. You guessed it … REALLY good.

The theme of the retreat was “Behold and Be Held.” So what did Sharon Brown talk about …

1. Behold: beholding the presence of God. What does it mean to behold?

2. Fear: people struggle with people-pleasing, perfectionism and shame

3. Beloved: what does it mean to know ourselves as God‘s beloved? Extravagantly steadfastly loved! Accepting that love.

4. Rest: practice slowing down and resting rather than always being busy.

5. Spiritual Practices: drudgery? Scarcity v abundance. Rest …

6. Images of God: in responding to the question “who do you say I am?“ you realize that your right answers about who God is based on the images of God that often come from our childhood and family of origin and that these images can be distorted in ways that we are not aware of. Prodigal Son story … extravagant grace. Does grace, steadfast love, faithfulness, generosity inform our picture of God? Jesus is our corrective lens.

7. Lament: God gives us permission to lament and he also gives us a way to lament as found in the Psalms.

And in between and at meals, I learned about grandchildren and families of origin and mutual friends and new friends … it was glorious.



1.19.20 … Consecration … Purgation … Illumination … Union …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, St. James Episcopal Church -Clayton GA:

I thought about walking this labyrinth on Friday as I drove nearby on my way from Atlanta to Asheville. I’ve only walked here once before, after I attended the funeral of Ann Metzgar, the mother of a Davidson friend. As I have continued to incorporate labyrinth walks into my life routines, I often try to find one when I am going to a funeral or a wedding… it gives me 20 minutes of special time to focus on the people I love.

This morning at the women’s retreat, I overheard a conversation that referenced Saint Matthews Episcopal Church of Snellville GA. Debbie, daughter of Ann referenced above and one of my friends from my Davidson Peripatetic Posse, was the interim at that church a few years back. So I inserted myself into the conversation, and the woman who had lived in Snellville knew Debbie well and absolutely adored her. After the conversation, I texted Debbie and we exchanged texts before she led worship at her church in Durango.

And as I returned from Asheville to Atlanta, I asked my sister if she would mind letting me walk the labyrinth in Clayton at Saint James Episcopal Church. She willingly agreed.

And the weather today was absolutely gorgeous, and this labyrinth is very serendipitous. As we approached, i noticed a small pet cemetery, and the labyrinth, made of large stones, incorporates a large oak tree at the center. There were rocks, logs and the base of the tree covered in moss, and the garden around it, although almost dead this time of year, hinted of its future glory. The dead hydrangeas will be phenomenal when blooming. And today, on 20 January, there were daffodils in bloom and I swear azaleas, or some variation. Look at the picture and tell me what you think the white flowers are. And the purple blooming in the ground cover … global warming indeed …

My sister picked up on a few different things… She noted the wonderful branch screen over to the side. And we both loved the moss at the base of the huge oak tree centering the labyrinth. we laughed about what wonderful homes that tree would have made for the fairies of our childhood play.

And there is a really good information kiosk.

Consecration … Purgation … Illumination … Union … a new take. I’ll have to ponder those words.

So glad I made the quick detour. Thinking of you, Debbie Metzgar Shew!



1.18.20 … sensible shoes …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, First Baptist Church- Asheville NC:

The Grace Episcopal Women’s Retreat is fabulous … more on that later.

During our free time today, my sister and I ventured to Asheville. We went to the Folk Art Center where i noticed some beautiful wood tables and chairs and textile art. I purchased a Blenko bowl and my sister gave me a new National Parks Passport. One down … 400+ to go.

Next we went to Appalachian Ridge Cidery where we purchased some apple brandy (think Calvados), Apple sherry and hard cider (we choose dry rather than sweet).

And then we took a quick labyrinth walk in the mist/light rain at First Baptist in downtown Asheville. There was a good wind so the chimes kept us amused.

As I walked, I thought of the prayer practice of palms down to release and palms up to receive.

I pointed out the dead hydrangeas to my sister. A few years ago she painted dead hydrangeas, something I would have never thought to go. I also noted how wonderful it must be to not only create something, but to complete it.

I was definitely wearing the wrong shoes which took me back to the retreat. One of Sharon Garlough Brown’s books is entitled “Sensible Shoes.” Within this fiction book Brown creates a safe place to explore spiritual practices. The first she introduces is labyrinths.

I always enjoy the cairns that have been created in this sacred space.

Next time I’ll wear sensible shoes.



1.5.20 … Always we begin again …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, 2019-20 Christmas Walks (12th Day of Christmas):

I started my new year by going back to my home church, First Presbyterian Church of Charlottr, for the first time on a Sunday in quite a while. I arrived in time for ChristIan Formation/Sunday School. Today we had an info session on Father Greg Boyle who will give the 2020 Willard Lecture in March.

“Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest and founder of the world’s largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program, will be deliver the next Willard Lecture on March 15, 2020. At a Jesuit parish in East Los Angeles, Father Greg served the poorest Catholic Church in the city, in the middle of the territories of numerous gangs. In 1988, Father Greg began to work with parish and community members to develop positive opportunities for youth who were involved in gangs, including a jobs program. The jobs program became an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

This program now offers a way out for young people stuck in a cycle of violence and incarceration.”

Worship at 11 focused on the twelfth day of Christmas and tomorrow‘s Epiphany. Merry Christmas, y’all!

And then, I walked. I returned to Avondale Presbyterian Church, the site of my first ever labyrinth walk in 2010. And I like to begin any new series of walks here. And this walk was a gift. It was a bright sunny day, the chimes rang merrily in the wind, the water ran in the fountain and the labyrinth was cool and welcoming in almost full shade with the bright green of the moss and weeds establishing new opportunities in the boundaries for 2020.


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January 2020