I had always wanted to walk a labyrinth “someday” and my 40th birthday seemed like a perfectly timed “someday” to walk one, taking time to reflect on my life: its past, present and future. So the afternoon of my birthday, with a small amethyst stone in my jeans’ front pocket, my husband Gary and I drove northward three hours to a bed-and-breakfast that had a labyrinth on its grounds.
As we checked in to the inn, I asked Clara, its owner, “Where can we find your labyrinth?” Grinning widely she handed me a trail map and said, “Here. Have the time of your life.”
Minutes later, map in hand, Gary and I began our trek through the estate’s thick woods. About a quarter mile into the forest sitting high in a clearing fortressed by ancient trees and framed with a thick carpet of bluegrass, we found the treasure that we sought: an eleven-circuit labyrinth laid out with silvery-brown slate and tumbled-smooth gravel.
Dusk had settled in as Gary and I climbed the wooden stairs to the entrance of the labyrinth. Gary stepped in first as I paused at the threshold, cupping my amethyst stone in my right hand. I knew that as I walked in toward the center I would contemplate, and yes, celebrate my first forty years of life. With a deep breath, I took my first step, a “baby” step. Then one step after the other, one foot in front of the other, I followed the path, thinking about the life I had lived.
Along the twists and turns inward, I remembered: my childhood beginnings, young adult years, newlywed years, mommy years; the bumps, the bruises; the tragedies, the triumphs; the wins, the losses; the beginnings, the endings. And with the memories, came the emotions that surrounded them.
When I reached the center, I fell into Gary’s open arms. As tears flowed I allowed myself to be loved without words, without questions, unconditional love from my partner and from this dear labyrinth.
I’m not sure how much time elapsed while in the center of the labyrinth and my husband’s arms; but I do know that it was enough. When the embrace ended, I laid my purple stone on the labyrinth’s center slate platform as a gift to it for helping me celebrate my forty-year life.
Now it was time to leave the center; leave my past behind. As I led the way out with Gary following, I imagined the years ahead of me: raising my children, enjoying grandchildren and great-grandchildren, visiting faraway places, making new friends, evolving as a human being.
At a couple of turns, fear gripped me. I thought: “Have I made a wrong turn? This doesn’t feel right. The path coming in was so familiar; I knew where to step. Now the path is different, reversed, strange. Oh my! Oh well! I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s the way I did it on the way in. One step at a time.”
What a metaphor for life! I realized that like these unfamiliar, sometimes disconcerting turns, I will face situations in the future that I have never faced before, paths not yet traveled. Nevertheless, I will walk into them, through them, just putting one foot in front of the other.
Before I knew it, I was at the end of my labyrinth journey; the end that was once my beginning, the exit that was once the entrance. Before I stepped across the threshold for the last time, I paused, not really wanting “it” to end; thinking that possibly at the end of my real life, I may not want it to end either. But knowing the inevitable had come, I stepped out into the soft grass, and waited for Gary. This time I held out my arms for him and another embrace sealed the experience.
We smiled at each other and as we headed back to the inn, I looked up into the night sky. There in all her glory, a very bright, very luminous half moon shone down upon me. Half Moon, mid in her cycle. Me, mid in mine.