House to Haven: This original article was written in 2007 and published in an edition of the Gold Canyon Ledger. I share it today as I consider the shift in energy and intent since the first labyrinth was started. It was never finished. Now, however, there is a new labyrinth underway on the property. It's a pretty good thing.
It is just past midnight and the moon is not yet full. I am surrounded by houses in the small Maricopa County pocket that is considered East Mesa. It’s a corner lot, yet there is no sharp turn, as the road gently passes in a rounded curve. In the not so far away distance, I can hear the rush of traffic on U.S. Highway 60. It is 2007, and I am but the toss of a stone away from my old modular home, yet I might as well be standing atop a Tor in ancient Briton. I have walked to this Place – a slow, silent walk, alone with my thoughts and my God. Time melted away; space shifted and changed. No longer am I surrounded by squat palms and leafy ficus; rather, the trees have grown to oak and willow. Around and around from where I began I have come to this: in the center of a great spiral, I sit and drink deep the air that no longer tastes of desert, but reminds of a long-ago summer. This night, I wrap my arms about my knees and lean back to gaze upon the stars. The stars are a link between the times, another reminder that I am connected by Spirit to all who have gone before and to those who will be. From this place upon the mystical Tor I sense my present-self upon the desert stones and know that it is time to return. Standing once more, I begin the descent from hillock to valley, from dreamtime to realtime. Around and around I walk, taking care not to step upon a line. The path is narrow and I do not want to traverse where I should not go. The cool Brithonic summer breeze shifts to warm and shifts again to desert summer heat. At the end of the path I turn to gaze upon the way I have come. This small labyrinth is once again but a simple spiral carved into my yard. It is a Mystery that it should have so recently been a passage between the worlds.
It has long been a dream of mine to have a home of my own, where I could create a space that is both homely and holy, both spiritual and mundane. Finally, with a little help from my church community, I was able to purchase my own home. The day I moved in, I was struck by the way it was situated on the property. Smack in the middle of my little quarter-acre lot, this 1980’s modular home has been expanded to 1800 square feet and has a nice porch and two “out buildings.” To me, it has an old farmhouse or cottage feel to it. Standing in the dining area, I noticed that the kitchen window faced almost directly west – the master bedroom at the other end, directly east. This placed the front and back doors – almost exactly parallel – at the north and south, respectively. The center of the home falls somewhere between the dining room table and my private office; placing the axis mundi, the sacred center or heart, in perfect alignment with the place where we gather to share in good food and discussion as well as with my personal refuge for deep thought and written expression. In honor of this sacred center, I planted my walking stick, along with its cronies of cane and broom, palm and branch, upright in their green urn against the wall between these two rooms. Wind chimes hang at the windows and doors in each direction: bright winged faerie to the east; iron sun to the south; dolphins to the west and dream-catchers to the North. Above the table hangs OM, the eastern symbol of the Word of Creation. At the entry to the hallway hangs a tiny birdhouse chime. This is the indoors, and no matter how messy the mundane, Spirit can still be felt and heard, for we have prayed it be so.
Outdoors, Spirit is discernable even in the broad of daylight, despite the normalcy of a neighborhood founded on the retirement dreams of the not-quite wealthy. A huge tree in an adjacent garden-yard plays host to a multitude of birds. Citrus in other yards make fragrant boundary-markers. Upon my own land, we are surrounded by short palms planted along the street. One tall palm stands near the home, three shade trees thought to be ficus rustle leaves in the breeze, providing home for hummingbirds and other small flying creatures. Small palmettos and ironwoods of varying age and size grace the yard. Two huge agave stand guardian to my front door, and all about the land are planted various things. Each season, I have discovered a new surprise. This March I discovered along the north wall of my home an Iris. One night I breathed deep and discovered the scent of incense– it brought to mind deep green forests, rich dark soil and golden amber. That night I wandered my yard and found the exact spot to place my labyrinth.
The labyrinth is a most profound path to that which we seek. A deliberate, silent walk to the center of a labyrinth is a sublime experience. The seeker of meaning can look deep within from the center and find his or her place in the universe. For the religious mystic, it is a corridor to the Presence of God. Since the first time I walked a labyrinth, I’ve wanted my own. I wanted one that was organic, carved out and stamped into the ground, surrounded by trees, open to the full moon and the scattered stars. My labyrinth has finally come to be “under construction.” It is a simple spiral. Between the ficus and the cactus, there is room enough for a comfortable five-cycle walkway to a center just large enough for one or two to sit zazen, should they wish. Three or five could gather, standing, should they plan an arm-in-arm meditational hug.
The circle has been cast, the lines drawn with staff and hoe. I have walked it, meditated in the heart of it, yet there is much to do be done. I have yet to acquire the rocks or scalloped garden edging I wish to use to mark the path. Rains and watering overflow have added greenery and rocks where there should be hard desert dirt. I will need to clear the land completely on bended-knee. Like a woman who has taken vows, I will make it a prayerful process. Zen-like, I will ask the invading plants their forgiveness as I tear them away. I will take hoe to ground and scrape free the loose dirt and the small river-rock. Once again, I will walk the spiral calling forth the path that has begun to diminish just a bit. When it is finished, we will be able to walk the path barefoot and when we reach the center, we shall be able to throw hands to the sky and declare our part in the Infinite.
Until then, there is a faintness of path, yet I know it intimately and privately. I walk it beneath both the moonlit sky and the dark-time. I listen to the night-birds as they call, and hear the almost silent movements of rabbits and other small desert creatures as they go about their nightly lives, whatever they may be. About the yard, I have scattered playful things: garden gnomes, faeries and angels. Each new item I add to the yard, each basil or rosemary, each wildflower or vine, each gnome, butterfly or tacky pink flamingo is a declaration that this is not only home to a small community of humans, but that it is also Sacred Space. It is a Haven. With the completion of the tiny labyrinth, it will be so much more.
© May 2007 by Suzanne B. Jacobson
|The original "House to Haven" Labyrinth|