Fifteen faces, the flickering light of a single votive candle in the darkness, silent and still. A mantle of peace settles over me as I look out and breathe in the life force of the humans, animals and other beings surrounding us.
As the first headlamp lights the path, I begin to play the largest of my Tibetan singing bowls, a low quiet hum growing louder as people slowly enter the labyrinth, each with their own light. Some bright and wide, highlighting their whole path and the ones next to them, others dim and small.
Some choose to walk with no light of their own, relying on the light of other flashlights and their own innate knowing of how to move through the world in the dark.
After the last person enters, I stop playing the bowl, letting the sound fade away and stand in the gateway, observing the slow procession of lights and feet moving round the spirals.
“Stop. Turn off your flashlights.” I hear myself say. Darkness descends. It is peaceful and quiet in the dark, knowing that there are folks all over the labyrinth, but not being able to see much of them. It’s the new moon, so there is no moonlight to illuminate the path. There’s some ambient light from the houses nearby and the small country airport that abuts our property, but it is faint.
“Grace, turn on your light.” A light in the dark flicks on. “Cliff.” Another light. I continue calling the lights. As they wink into view, it feels like those magical moments at dusk when the stars light one by one. Some turn on their light when called and then choose to turn it back off again, preferring the dark. We begin walking again. I feel even more connected to these beings on the path with me.
I hear the rustle of the oak leaves as folks move through the second spiral.
“Is there an impulse that you’re not following?” I hear myself say, and then realize that there is an impulse that I’m not following, so I look up to see where the next open spot on the path is. I zip into that spot, easily and effortlessly. Flitting with ease along the path, easily skipping past people because I want to be moving faster. I start to hear giggling, though its still subdued. I enter the heart space, coming to a stop, and gaze, watching the lights move across the path. I’ve been breathing deeply and easily and the breath deepens even further as I stand in the silence.
I head back out, unwinding the path, meeting folks along the path. Some seem confused to see me coming towards them, though I’m not the first to meet them. This is where things start to get interesting. In the unwinding, when you meet people coming and going. Intersecting with them and having choices to make. Do I step aside, do we do a little do-si-do, do they step aside. Do I choose to completely leave the path, or just lean over so that the other can pass? All these choices. In the past, my mind would have been busy trying to figure out the ‘right’ way to do this, with the ‘right’ way changing with each person. This time I simply choose, over and over again, dancing with my partners. I have no conscious memory of those choices, only that it was ease to flow and move and dance. They didn’t feel like choices; they felt like the next move in the dance.
Coming off the labyrinth I pause at the entrance, turning around to look again at the lights moving across the path, smiling quietly to myself. I realize that I’ve automatically turned off my flashlight and now I’m looking, without light, for a place to sit, for to have the light on out here feels wrong.
I feel my way to the sky chair hanging from one of the guardian oak trees. The one I often sit in when watching people on the labyrinth. I sink into the chair, gently swaying, and watch the lights. Breathing in the dark and the quiet, punctuated by soft laughter as folks bump into each other on the path.
Most of the folks are off the labyrinth now, finding places to sit and watch while the last of the folk exit. The last one, a woman in white walking in the dark. Her pants are softly glowing as she glides through the dark like the nocturnal creature that she is, silent and sure.
I begin to hum. What am I humming? Oh! It’s the lullaby from Mary Poppins. As I wend my way through the melody, I begin to sing the words. “Stay awake, don’t nod and dream.”
Now we’re all off; folks are settled, some sitting, some standing, all close by.
We begin to explore what happened for us. Each person has a different to story to tell. So many different experiences. We’re all doing the same thing, and yet each person had their own unique and precious experience. They’re own ‘lessons’, if you will, their own explorations. A number of folks were annoyed at all the other people being in their way. Several people created solo walks, one by getting off the path when I asked about impulses. She got off the path, went and sat on a bench and watched until folks had moved through and then got to walk the path at her own quicker pace. Another got ‘lost’ by stepping off the path, but in doing so, also created a solo walk in the dark, because she’d gotten so turned around that she walked at least one spiral twice before realizing that everyone was headed off and now she could walk in the dark by herself without the lights of other people.
As the conversation beings to die down someone asks about the lower labyrinth and can they walk that. I send Mark to lead them down as I clear away the tools of the ritual, gathering my singing bowl and the votive candle and taking them into my healing cottage.
Heading down to the lower labyrinth I hear much more talk and laughter. There’s more light down here, partly because the stones glow in the dark. People turn off their lights and walk this lower one, at least the first two spirals, without their flashlights, laughing and talking and giggling along the way. I heard several people talk about loving this chance to ‘redo’ the walk. More fully choosing their own impulses. I love that they’ve asked for this and that we all choose together to explore more.
I am reminded, once again, that the way we walk the labyrinth is the way that we walk life. And we get new choices as often as we choose to take them.
What’s your new choice?