This morning is bliss. I began with quiet breakfast and gentle morning prayers. I walked the labyrinth, journeying away from a time of depletion and toward a season of rest and renewal. Now I sit on a small patio surrounded by green grass and gardens full of red and yellow tulips, drifts of bluebells, and the first reddish shoots of peony. A few tall, stiff leaves that will soon yield lily of the valley blooms keep me company, too.
I am still wearing my sabbatical boots. Not because I love them (I do) and not becuase it’s raining (it’s not) but because of the goose poop.
When I arrived and spoke with the sister who showed me to my room, she asked about how I would be spending my time here. When I indicated tha I would enjoy walking the labyrinth she immediately gave me a warning: Look out for the goose poop. And then she added, “Oh, and look out for the geese, too”.
Geese? I said. Geese walk the labyrinth?
It’s hard to imagine that those honking, waddling creatures who seem so slow witted crossing the street or paddling around in giant spring puddles would have much sense of the divine, never mind the discipline to seek a spiritual connection through a laybrinth.
Oh yes, the sister assured me. We can’t figure out why they love it so much. And we wouldn’t mind except that they leave it such a mess.
I suppose that’s just the way it is sometimes. Rarely are moments–even spiritual ones–without a few bits of goose poop underfoot. I keep this in mind as I head into sabbatical. Some of my grand garden plans will fail (any gardener knows that failure comes with the territory). Some days I will not feel like praying. Some days it will be cold and rainy and some of my best laid plans just won’t come together the way I’d hoped.
But even a little goose poop on my boots can’t take away the pleasure of a beautiful morning. That’s what my boots are for, anyway.
We have our own special ‘poop-deck’ too – for raccoons, not for geese – but it serves the same purpose as we head to our special place to meditate.
Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has two identical, beautiful labyrinths – one inside and one outside. Around the outside one, are lovely gardens and it seems there is always someone walking and praying.
On the inside one, there is Yoga on the Labyrinth on Tuesday evenings and last week there were about 200 people men and women, young and old, with colourful mats all quietly following the teachers suggestions. There were candles around the centre and a man playing very large singing bowls in the centre.
Walking, singing, praying….
I have often dreamt of a labyrinth in a church…but two!? How excellent. I could even be talked into taking a yoga class if it was somewhere like that.