The whole scene is always quite marvelous.

I timed my arrival to my town’s annual New Year’s, 24-hour Labyrinth Walk just perfectly, completely by chance. The live music that was playing in that particular time slot happened to be two harpists creating a doorway onto the candlelit canvas maze which had been carefully laid down on the floor of a church sanctuary. Angelic.

The labyrinth takes up most of the floor space in one gigantic circle. Four alters are set up along the sides to recognize the four directions, north, south, east, and west, or the four sacred elements—earth, air, fire, and water, which together brings balance and harmony to our planet. Chairs and benches for meditation are scattered around the outer rim. Community members of all ages and philosophies/religions come and partake in silence and at their leisure. I got there when there was plenty of room to walk, but in no time I could feel the swell of the masses descending around me as I went deeper and deeper toward the middle. It’s all good.

What to do:

Everyone has their own way of walking a labyrinth. If you don’t have any idea what to do with it, just follow the lines as they wind you in and around until your reach the center (where you’ll pause, pray, acknowledge, whatever) before coming back out, a little like walking the Yellow Brick Road. That’s usually enough to provide a nice, meditative walk. For me, it’s a journey into my core being and then back out again; a way to access and take a look at my past year as well as visualize and set intentions for the upcoming year.

No matter how many times I’ve done it, I experience profound awakenings within me. Even though I personally acknowledged specific situations from this past year, I am always reminded that a reverent communal labyrinth walk is also an exercise in humanity.

I learned:

1.    To notice when and how many times someone irritates me because they are not “doing” the labyrinth the way I think it ought to be done.

2.    I’m getting faster at immediately changing my attitude on this

3.    To be careful with judgment, as I don’t know others’ stories

4.    My “way” is not the only “way”

5.    It’s good to try someone else’s method in order to experience something new

6.    If I let go of expectations, I allow myself to be open to new insights.

7.    That one step at a time leads me to my destination

8.    I can slow way down for more deliberate and careful action and still get there

9.    If I stop at the hairpin turns, I can see where I’ve come from and where I’m going.

10.    to stop and review what I have learned more often

11.    I can stay on track

12.    It’s OK step outside of the lines sometimes

13.    It’s OK to cut across and skip ahead on my own journey

14.    That children have unique and good ideas too

15.    To remember to be childlike at times.

16.    Some roads are short and some are long.

17.    Some things still make me cry when I think about them

18.    It’s important to acknowledge those feelings of loss and be gentle with myself

19.    It’s important to honor and recognize myself for the things I have done, and maybe even done well.

20.    To forgive and give grace to myself for things I’m not happy with about myself

21.    The path is shared by many and its a two-way street

22.    Cooperation between walkers is crucial for everyone’s personal peace.

23.    It’s important to move out of the way and let someone pass

24.    To allow others to move out of the way so that I can pass – accept the gift.

25.    That others are on their own journey and to give them space and respect

26.    Everyone is allowed the same opportunities.

27.    It doesn’t matter what anyone is wearing.

28.    It’s my journey and the choice is mine on how I walk it – no body else cares.
29.    If it is right, gently acknowledging others or giving a squeeze on the hand can be a powerful spirit lifter.

30.    That life is a labyrinth which we all share but experience differently. We enter, and until we exit, there will be short and long roads, twists and turns, familiar and unfamiliar faces.

After exiting the Labyrinth, I was drawn to sit and meditate. I deliberately sat near the gong and brass singing bowl where a guy was “playing” them. How fortunate I was, I thought, to be able to experience this. The various and powerful tones vibrated at a different level or place in my body, and I had the realization that they were actually balancing my chakras. I imagined each of my cells healing and recalibrating.

Note to self: seek this out more often.

What a way to begin 2010. Not only was I able to get my head on straight for the upcoming year by going deep within myself and out again, but received the added bonus of sound medicine — my kind of healthcare.

Coming together for individual and common purpose is what makes a community. While improving ourselves we contribute to the highest good of all. I’m fortunate to live in a town that values such things.