Grail Center Labyrinth–May 15

Word of advice regarding a labyrinth walk:

Do not bring your husband who has vascular dementia.

He cannot remember that this is a sacred activity.

A silent activity.

I send him in ahead of me. 

I wait.  Close eyes.  Find my question.

Slow step.  Heel to toe step.

*

He makes silly Halloween noises when he passes me.

I’m in a bubble, I tell him. Be quiet.

He walks fast.  He sits on a bench. 

He says, People leave stuff here.

Sssh! I hiss.

Slow step. Heel to toe step.

*

Focus, I tell myself, focus on your question.

He repeats, People leave stuff here. 

I give up on the spiritual and focus on the material.

Stones delineate the paths.

The makers have laid down weed deterring cloth

fixed it to the earth with spikes

and metal washers the size of doughnuts.

Then a layer of mulch on the cloth.

Slow step. Heel to toe step.

*

I examine the trinkets visitors have left.

A beaded bracelet and one made of string.

Several cartoon character plastic toys

A dream catcher

A row of scallop shells

A painted red word: peace.

Slow step. Heel to toe step.

*

I am in the center

sacred leftovers jumbled at my feet.

What was my question? 

A laminated photograph of a young man

Latino. 2000-2019

A card about suicide prevention.

Is that my answer?  Gratitude?

*

Get away! Get away! he says, swatting at gnats.

The stone walls stand witness.

Trees breathe green.

Scent of honeysuckle

On a rush of wind

A spatter of rain

Slow step.  Heel to toe step.

*

So many seekers walking

I hold them all within me.

As they hold me

And this bumbling, noisy man as well.

Labyrinth IV

The 15th of May was warm and sunny. We set off to find the labyrinth at the Grail Center in Cornwall-on-Hudson.  Listed as a retreat or conference center, the Grail Center “welcomes to the public to use the labyrinth during daylight hours, and to respect any retreat participant activities that are going on at the time of your visit.” (Worldwide Labyrinth Locator).

The Grail Center proved to be a large, tall house with two circular drives, one in front and one in back.  We drove past the front door looking for a sign of some sort, but there was none.  We drove around the back circle where four cars were parked.  Still no notice indicating the location of a labyrinth.  We drove around to the main entrance again, and I got out to investigate. 

The top portion of the Dutch door was open.  I peered into a spacious foyer where a wooden statue of a peaceful seated woman caught light from the windows.  “Hello!  Hello!” my voiced echoed.

I heard women talking and laughing, but no one appeared.  Not yet willing to give up, I went out to the car and parked it in the back with the others.  Then, finally, a young woman came out, asking, “Can I help you?”

She graciously directed us toward the labyrinth, and also answered my questions about the Grail Center.  It was in use today or possibly rented for longer by the Rural and Migrant Ministry. (http://ruralmigrantministry.org)  I was torn—I wanted to learn more about her organization, but I also wanted to see the labyrinth.  That, after all, was the reason we had come.

Off we went, down the hill, following a somewhat indistinct path past two cabins that I supposed housed retreat participants.  On our left was an empty stone niche that had once, I guessed, held a religious statue.

The path came to a T and we went to the right, because I could see part of the stone wall that was in the photograph in the WWLL. 

We skirted along the higher part of the stone wall which had a low archway built into it. 

This doorway was blocked, but further down there was an arch where we entered.  It felt to me like discovering an ancient ruin.

My printout stated that “The Grail Labyrinth is a five-circuit labyrinth adapted from the Tarry Town Labyrinth at Temple Cowley, Oxford, England.”  It measures thirty-eight feet across.

At the entrance was a tile that read, “Enjoy the journey.” 

On a podium was this quote from Rev. Dr.  Lauren Artes’s book Walking the Sacred Path:

The atmosphere of this labyrinth and the place itself felt welcoming and warm.  Even though the actual labyrinth and the stone walls were worn and in disrepair, the energy of the walkers felt young, especially because of the items many had left on the stones lining the path.

The poem in the following post captures my experience, so I won’t elaborate on that part.

This was my favorite labyrinth so far.  I appreciated the setting: the crumbling stone walls, the surrounding woods, the mysterious path leading there. 

As we often do, we donated to the labyrinth’s sponsoring organization.

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