I enjoy walking labyrinths. Labyrinths are maze-like structures that have been used as spiritual tools for centuries. There are many of them around, and I am in the habit of trying to visit a lot of them. For more information about labyrinths, check out The Labyrinth Society.
I drove down to Central Bucks county yesterday to do some letterboxing. What’s letterboxing? An old hobby I’ve drifted away from. It’s essentially a huge scavenger hunt in the woods. People plant boxes all over the place, and post clues to those boxes online. I was a pretty avid letterboxer for ten years, and found well over a thousand boxes. I also made some wonderful friends. But I just haven’t been that interested in it for a while. But I thought I would do some boxing yesterday at a park I just love, Peace Valley Nature Center just north of Doylestown. I found four, which wasn’t too bad. Actually five, but the location of the fifth was so overgrown with thorns and briars that I just didn’t care enough to unearth it. That was very telling to me: there was a time when I would not have cared about any damage to myself — I’m getting that box, no matter what. But yesterday, I was just happy to take a walk through those old woods, and get some much-needed exercise. The journey was more important to me than the destination, which was quite a switch from the way I used to be.
Anyway, I also brought along the address of a labyrinth in the area. Peace Valley Nature Center is adjacent to (and in some ways, a part of) Peace Valley County Park, a lovely recreational park built around the manmade Lake Galena. There is a labyrinth on the very edge of the county property, and it’s a type of labyrinth I’d never encountered before: 100% natural.
At first, I had trouble finding this labyrinth. From my car, all I saw was a field of grass with an area that was unmown. Here’s the view of the labyrinth from outside:
Doesn’t look like much, does it? But as I got closer, I saw that it was a perfect circle; closer yet, and I could see that there was a mown path within.
It was amazing. Wildflowers and wild grass growing into a meadow, through which a well-kept path was nurtured. I approached this labyrinth tired and sweaty from a morning of letterboxing. I knew that I had a few options for my afternoon: I could either find some more boxes (I had another twelve or so clues printed out), or I could go to another labyrinth that was near here, or I could go home. I was perplexed and vexed by what I should do. As I entered, I asked for the ability to just follow the “flow,” the “Tao” if you like, of my day. Maybe because of the simple natural beauty of this maze, I felt like I found it pretty quickly. I walked through, happy and free. I felt the sweat and wet on my shirt, the heaviness of my hiking boots, and knew I wanted to shed myself of them, and change into comfortable shoes before I drove any further. I saw letterboxing as something from my past, a wonderful thing to revisit from time to time, but as past nonetheless. And I saw labyrinths as my present. I found it interesting that both of these hobbies are connected to walking.
I reached the center, and saw this, which had been mostly hidden from view until then:
A rather electic collection of dreamcatchers and other assorted spiritual things. If you look closely, you can see a small wrench hanging on the bottom left. (And you can see my car in the distance, in the closest place to park.) And I knew this was right. Labyrinths are right for me, at this point in my life. The next stop on my journey would be another labyrinth.
I’ll post about that one later tonight.