I remember the first time I walked a labyrinth was at a spiritual retreat. The directions were simply to walk slowly and quietly and pay attention. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends. Every part of it is a segment of the one path to the center. As long as you keep going you will get to the center. We could stay as long as we wanted in the center and then slowly and quietly walk back the way we came.
I noticed many metaphors for life and the ways we experience each other’s presence. There was no set time to begin. Others were entering and exiting as they wished. Some followed the directions and some did not. Some acknowledged each other as they approached, some did not. Sometimes we walked next to someone else for awhile but they were on a different part of the path and their way eventually diverged from ours. We were all moving toward the same goal and yet from a distant vantage point we seemed to be wandering aimlessly and changing directions at random. Some people took shortcuts. Taking shortcuts made the reward less meaningful. Changing directions was necessary to utilize the entire space. It would not have been interesting or useful without those changes in direction. The changes in direction made it what it was. It seemed that you were almost at the goal, and then a change in direction happened. You were still moving toward the goal even when it seemed you were moving away from it.
As with many metaphors, if you try to take it too far it falls apart. I do not think that there is only way to achieve most goals. Maybe life has many labyrinths and part of our free will is choosing our path. I wish that my goals had clear paths leading to them. I would not mind changes in direction if I was sure that I was on the right path. It is a paradox. I want to be able to choose and yet I want the way to be clear.
So why did I create a labyrinth on my deck?
I needed to shovel the deck because the weight of the snow was getting worrisome. The idea of shoveling a pattern emerged as I was trying to solve the puzzle of how to have time to complete my tasks and create art. How to have time to walk, meditate, create, and have a clean well maintained home. I did not need to get all the snow off the deck, just enough to make sure it did not collapse from the weight of the snow.
It was actually fun to create this. It took a really long time but I took lots of breaks. Each foot of length was many scoops of snow carefully tossed over the railing. I decided on the changes in direction as I went. Each snowfall since has been an opportunity to do a meditative walk with the shovel. Now the walls have horizontal lines like geological layers of earth.
The process of creating this reminded me of happy parts of my childhood. Playing in the snow and creating forts. It is so satisfying to use the shovel as a sculpting tool to shape the edges of the walls. Sitting in a cozy space with snow walls is an experience that combines inside and outside.
After our most recent snowfall I walked in Central Park in Roseville, Minnesota, USA. The edge of the path also has that same wall effect. I wonder if the drivers of those machines that clear the trails have that same satisfying feeling of creating the path?