Revealing the Path
     One of the phrases often quoted in labyrinth work is that what happens on the labyrinth is what happens in life.
    When walking a labyrinth with other people we are given clues about our relationships. Are you impatient with the person ahead? Likely you are impatient in other places too. Do you feel pressured by someone behind? That is probably a feeling you connect with every day. The experiences we have in a labyrinth energy field contain lessons and life-teachings when we are willing to acknowledge them.
     I live on the edge of Gatineau Park just north of Ottawa, and finally this week the winter accumulation of snow has subsided. An entire world that has been concealed since late last year is reappearing and reminding us of what the place looks like. Last summer I installed a labyrinth behind the house where I live. It is in a small cleared area, surrounded by tall trees. The path is simply floor of the forest, marked out with chipped white rock.

     For months it has been a smooth white space: cushion-looking after each new fall of snow. Some days it was shiny when the icy cold winds and freezing rains contributed to a glass-like shell on the top.
     Now that the snow has receded, evidence of my autumn activities is back in the light.
     As the various layers are revealed, I see some of the lessons I am granted this year. There are metaphors and parallels with work I am currently doing.
     With my colleague Tamlyn Hedemann at Soaring Spirit Institute I am co-authoring a book which promises to be rather wonderful. We are examining the human capacity for love, and the expansion of that capacity in later life. We examine the lessons we have learnt through love: with our first families; first romantic and sensual loves; long-term partnerships and their endings; the arrival of grandchildren; and unexpected opportunities as become aware of loves we had never before considered.
     The writing requires me to look back over different parts of my life. Like the oft-named onion of any personal work, each time I peel away a layer of my memory and experience, another one appears underneath.
     My labyrinth is like that just now: with the snow gone, I can see the groundsheet that I put down to protect the area.  Springtime is showing me how the edges the tarpaulin did not reach, has felt the winter differently than the rest.
     Where I have folded back the covering, there is a dark, earthy-smelling layer of fallen leaves. Maples and oaks surround the setting, and other leaves, too. During the winter they have consolidated themselves into tightly packed cakes of layers which lift easily enough before slithering into complex patterns, revealing their individual shapes and origins.
     My memory is working in much the same way. An historical truth, like the family move from the UK to Canada can be named as a simple fact. Then, like a cake of leaves, a cascade of anecdotes and memories and characters and occurrences comes skidding and skipping into consciousness, reminding me of particular triumphs and challenges that have contributed to who I am today.
     More recent memories are clearer, yet not without a need for examination.
    The pathways can lead in any direction, there are old leaves drifting in from the sides, and the green tinge of weeds which might intrude on such clarity as exists.
     When we are engaged in personal work, as when we are engaged in loving, we can bring more into the moment when we are willing to learn. Openness to the new can reveal whole worlds of unsuspected potential. Sometimes, a walk on a labyrinth will help us to shortcut into the lessons which surround us.  All we have is Now, and Now can show us a deeply textured life that calls forth deep gratitude for the shape it has taken.

     Jo Leath has been supporting clients through change and growth since the 1980s.
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