We've been discussing labyrinths
on my Book Buddies
blog, related to our reading of Diana Butler Bass's book on Christianity for the Rest of Us
. So two of us walked the labyrinth at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Chattanooga today.
The labyrinth was in a courtyard surrounded by the church's buildings, totally enclosed and yet outside. We started at the "sunny" door (top photo), and this door was on a shady side. Because the darker "guide lines" were faded, we each missed turns and had to retrace our steps.
The doors into the courtyard were locked, and the couple arriving when we drove up knew where to find someone to let us in. While waiting for the key, we learned this labyrinth is based on the one inside Chartres Cathedral
in France and the wife had been there. Her access to that labyrinth was more difficult than our short wait, since chairs had been set up all over that one. You can see the chairs in the photo are set up, but off the actual labyrinth. This smaller one Donna and I walked today is patterned after the one at Chartres Cathedral.
As I started into the labyrinth, I noticed a feather. When I passed Donna in an adjacent lane, I told her it was there. When I came back around that area, I looked for the feather, but it was gone. Looking across at Donna, I could see it in her hand. (That white spot above her clasped hands is the feather's white tip.) I spoke to her when I missed a turn, when I noticed she missed a turn, and probably several more times. She said not a word, meditating as I should have been doing, if it weren't for all the opportunities to take these pictures for my blog.
As I approached her here, I noticed she was standing still, looking at the deep purple flowers beside the pink and white blossoms. Just as I got there, I saw a bee fly away. When we had lunch afterwards, Donna said the bee had an appetizer at one flower and went to another for his lunch.
As I walked, I was aware of splashing water off to the side. When I had completed my walk back out of the labyrinth, I went to that wall and found a statue and water flowing over and dripping off all the leaves into the stones in the fountain below. That's when I noticed names on the wall to the left of the fountain.
This had been the church of my neighbor and friend, so I went to read the names. I heard the "sunny" door close behind me and realized Donna was probably cold and went inside the church when she completed her walk. My friend Robin Holt died a year after my mother.
This handout from the labyrinth says in part:
"The labyrinth here at St. Paul's is a modified Classical Chartres design, similar to the one laid in the nave of Chartes Cathedral in France around 1220 AD. ... There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. Walk with an open mind and an open heart and receive whatever is there for you. ... May God bless you on your journey."
Donna quietly and persistently went through the labyrinth; I was focused on what I'd write and what photos I'd post this evening. She was "mindful" while I was "mind-full." Guess who probably got the most out of it? On the handout is the feather she carried through the labyrinth and then took home as a gift for her cat Sammy