Saturday, June 13, 2015


Yesterday I walked a labyrinth. What does it mean today?

The quick answer is, "I don't know." The longer answer is: "I don't know, but I will share here with you my succinct next-day postlabyrinth reflections."

The labyrinth in this case was at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the rolling, emerald, June, cumulus-shadowed hills of the Berkshires. "Kripalu: explore the power of you." It is a winding path bedecked on its sides by swaying or bobbing flowers, the path consisting of wood chips. It is not a maze with false dead ends and blind alleys and false starts and false finishes. It is a winding path that in a sense you cannot stray from. At its end is a statue of Buddha and a statue of an angel with evidence of previous pilgrims: folded notes, (presumably) petitions, and queries. Coins (pennies, nickels), apples and other fruit, candles, burnt incense. The detritus of spiritual search.

I was instructed that before entering the labyrinth, one can pose a question or riddle or quandary. Pose to whom? I don't know. The universe, the inner self, the labyrinth. I posed no specific question, query, quandary, or any other word beginning with Q. Perhaps I was afraid of the weight of such a proposition. I was also told to breathe in and out, a certain number of prescribed inhalations and exhalation, before embarking. I tried some of that but lost count. My labyrinthine companion posed a question or item of some sort to the cosmos before walking the labyrinth. The topic? That's between her and the air.

Although I was not alone on the labyrinthine path, I was alone. And so it must be. Only I can walk my path.

I wanted to know the names of flowers, those aside from the obvious daisies (day's eyes), with their unnameable hues, fragrances, and textures. Why? The are fine without names. They are there, naked and real.

I saw two bees, gathering pollen. Busy as you-know-whats. I stopped. I watched. I delighted in them. I was not afraid of being stung. As I began again on the path, one of the bees swirled toward me. I thought it might sting me. It did not. But if it did, so what.

I walked barefoot for a while.

I closed my eyes at times.

I opened my ears, the birds, the breeze, the rustling branches.

At the end, after the end point with the statues, the end point becomes the starting point for walking back. It was an altogether different path. The same path was not the same path. It was now a path stained by me and my own just-traversed path experience.

The walk back (a relative term) seemed easier. I wanted to hurry.

You know how people say, "God has a plan for me?" I often have trouble with the marionette aspects of that phrase. But as for labyrinths, I felt this afterward, about this labyrinth: we each have a path; it might even be the exact same path for each of us. But it is infinitely different for each of us. (Reminds me a bit of "Labyrinths," or maybe "Ficciones," by Jorge Luis Borges, a favorite of mine in my youth.)

As it should be.

The Online Etymology Dictionary adds this for you to chew on:

labyrinth (n.) Look up labyrinth at
c. 1400, laberynthe (late 14c. in Latinate form laborintus) "labyrinth, maze," figuratively "bewildering arguments," from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," especially the structure built by Daedelus to hold the Minotaur near Knossos in Crete, from a pre-Greek language; perhaps related to Lydian labrys "double-edged axe," symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant "palace of the double-axe." Used in English for "maze" early 15c., and in figurative sense of "confusing state of affairs" (1540s).

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