Yesterday I walked my first labyrinth.
Actually, that's not true. I walked my first half labyrinth.
It was much larger than I expected, and I walked more slowly than I expected, and there were more people in it than I expected, and I had *no idea* that the way "out" and the way "in" were the same path.
(I realize, philosophically, they are not the same, but literally, they are, and I had no idea what the etiquette was, who steps where to let which person pass?)
The labyrinth was laid out beautifully in black tape on an old wooden floor on the second storey of the town office building. There were candles up on the stage area, and soft music playing. Otherwise, it was silent except for the sound of people walking.
I had the hardest time stepping in. I got all choked up, and truly thought I would lose it right there. What was that all about? Was it about the last year? The recent tragedies? The riffled up holiday emotions? The ailing beloved grandmother? The job uncertainty? The feeling of not quite having my footing?
Finally, I stepped in, and tried to allow myself to stay present and inward and true. I walked very slowly, really paying attention to how each foot felt as it contacted the floor. I was reminded of walking meditation, where as you step, you say, I am arriving, I am arriving, I am arriving, or, I am here, I am here.
I was totally in my own space when I realized I was face to face with someone in the process of coming out-- and we both dodged and weaved and finally made it past each other with awkward smiles. I was surprised at how hard it was to allow myself to step out of what felt like my path. I was afraid, maybe, of not knowing where to step back in.
At one point, I noticed a ladybug crossing the floor right in front of me, so I stopped and picked it up, and carried it for a while until it flew off my palm.
Slowly, I made my way to the center, meditated for a few minutes to the sounds of the creaking floorboards, and then, walked the first part of the pathway out. Once at the rim, and getting more and more aware of time passing, and my loved ones waiting for me at a nearby cafe, I respectfully stepped out, circled it once, and left.
To be honest, yes, it felt centering. It also felt *important*. I don't have a lot of rituals in my life, in fact, very very few. And it felt sort of great to have a symbolic something to do, to take part in, something ephemeral.
It also felt like I was doing a bit of emotional decluttering. If only the stage of the project where you dump out the junk drawer to see what's been gathering in the back corners.
I've been working on decluttering a bit in more than one aspect of my life for a month or so, thanks to a great little book that my sister put me on to (read chapters 4-7 for the biggest ah has).
Decluttering, for me, does not and cannot mean achieving a steady state of serenity and order; it is much more kinetic, more of a tending, more of an ongoing process with big intention motivating it. I know and have known I feel happier and more at peace in less cluttered, simpler, more beautiful spaces. So this is about opening my space to feel better than it has until this recent flurry of decluttering began.
Anyway, it was how I marked the beginning of the year: stepping into the unknown, finding myself sad and relieved, on a path that often felt like it was going the wrong way, back and forth, not making progress that was visible, until there I was at the center, some place I'd never been before.