Belonging on the Labyrinth Path

Cerimon House’s “Walk The Vote” event in honor of the 2018 election. Photo credit: Paul Fardig

Cerimon House’s “Walk The Vote” event in honor of the 2018 election. Photo credit: Paul Fardig

First steps on the path. A familiar pattern of movement in toward the center followed by a shift outward, away from that safe womb I yearn to return to in times of upheaval. Curving inward. Outward. The intention suggested for this walk offered by Cerimon House: Walk The Vote. Beyond deep healing, what did my heart desire for this country I love the day before the midterm elections after an election season filled with acrimony? I picked a slip of paper from the bowl at the entrance and held it in my hand lightly, my “vote.” I have learned over the years to let go of what I “want” and to allow the labyrinth to offer her wisdom.

My pace was smooth and measured. I matched my breath to my footfalls. Breath—we all breathe the same air. How does air quality not concern us all? In. Out. Toward center—my interior. Questions arise. What is my responsibility? Long stretch of path on the outer edge—my exterior. How do I join with others? And so it went as I considered the resource of air. And then my feet pressed to the ground. Earth. Our forests. And images of my beloved ocean. Water. Air, earth, water. Three of the vital elements for our lives, all our lives, in order to be sustained.

The center was close when they joined me. One short arc of the path and a turn inward and I felt the heaviness of their plodding feet. The weight they carried. Their young children and babies in their arms. Hunger. Yearning. Desire for safety.

They didn’t speak to me. They simply wanted to show me the difficult, winding path they had been on and how much farther they had to go.
— anne richardson

How simple it had been for me to take that first step on the labyrinth canvas. How desperate must they have been to take that first step on their journey. Weak from lack of food and choice, but strong in resilience and hope. What does it feel like to leave your homeland to become an “intentional” refugee? (And I use the word “intentional” loosely, for there are times when the only option is to leave or watch those you love die.)

They didn’t speak to me. They simply wanted to show me the difficult, winding path they had been on and how much farther they had to go. My own feet felt suddenly heavy and my pace slowed. The center seemed far away, though I was only a few steps from the entrance. And even if I, we, arrived at the center? It isn’t the completion of the journey. It isn’t for any of us. It is a place to rest before returning to the world.

Dry, dusty, & difficult journey. Photo by anne richardson.

Dry, dusty, & difficult journey. Photo by anne richardson.

I entered the center with my “ballot” and placed it in the box focused on welcoming refugees and those in need and placed my hands on top in prayer. Then I stopped for a moment in front of the other five “ballet” boxes. All worthy of a vote. I slowly made my way back to the entrance, following the same path back out. In toward the center, long stretch of path on the outer edge, keeping in mind the plight of those traveling through the rugged terrains of Central America and Mexico, hoping for something different. Carrying thirsty children on wobbling legs. Breathing in ragged dust and fumes from old trucks. Hoping for hope.

As I stepped off, I got on my knees and bowed in gratitude. Asked for deeper compassion. Compassion. That is my daily practice. My daily invitation at this time on my journey. It is an invitation I extend to us all.

After the walk I spoke with the Randall Stuart, founder of Cerimon House, and shared my experience. He shared about the gifting of this new canvas to Cerimon House. I discovered that the restored 33’ Chartres labyrinth had been one I had borrowed from the Portland State University’s Spiritual Life program during my fellowship at the VA nine years ago when I offered labyrinth walks. It had been restored, renewed, and rebirthed. It is stunning! What a personal joy for me to know how my life path had brought us back together.

Cerimon House is a gift to the Portland, Oregon community. If you live in the Portland Metro area, check out upcoming events on their website.

As my practice continues to grow, additional requests for my labyrinth facilitation is growing too. It is a tool for processing, grounding, insight, team building, meditation, relaxation, and so much more, though using the labyrinth to engage with grief and loss continues to be foundational to my work.

I admit that the labyrinth is such an integral part of my life, I can assume that everyone “gets it.” I have updated the labyrinth page on my website with clearer explanations (hopefully) and to reflect new offerings. Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And questions. If you follow my blog, you know I end with questions, so here they are:

  • What offers you hope at this time on your life path?

  • How does it feel to connect with your “interior self?” To engage with the “exterior” world?

  • Think back through your life? When was a time you felt unsafe, unwelcome, or told you didn’t belong? How did you care for yourself or those you loved?

Please send your comments and share with me what is going in in your life.