Monday, May 9, 2011

The Labyrinth and Nothing

After my wildlife refuge time the other day, I had an hour free before I needed to get home, so I found myself at the labyrinth, which is only a couple of minutes away from the wildlife place.

It seemed like a good idea to walk the labyrinth at this time, since I usually do it as a kind of spiritual help to friends going through difficult times, and there certainly seem to be plenty of difficult times to go around.

This time it was dear P.B. and her husband S. who between them have a load of health and professional issues to cope with that would daunt anyone, and they're just the sort of Good People that Bad Things Should Not Happen To.

Anyway, little I can do to help them, but I can walk the labyrinth, and as usual at the entrance I presented the labyrinth with what I think I'm there for. This time it was very hard to formulate a question or a concern, so I just thought, well, here goes nothing, and started.

I decided to simply walk, not change anything, not push any of the rocks on the paths displaced by rain and squirrels back into place, just allow things to be, suspend my endless need to organize my surroundings.

On this trip, I'd found a couple of items blowing about on the path that seemed appropriate for these friends, one a down feather, white, perfect, one a tiny strip of ribbon, purple and gold stripes, which struck me as funny.

At the center of the place I put my offering in the container there for the purpose; the feather made several attempts to leave before agreeing to sit in the bowl, and the ribbon fluttered about as I tried to put it down in a wind. Just as I realized it wasn't appropriate to force myself on events, even this small, they both lay down.

What almost always happens, on the way out of the paths, is that a sudden thought comes so urgently to mind that I have to entertain it. And on the way out of the winding path this time, the thought exploded in my mind: nothing matters in the end. Which sounded horrifyingly negative, until I turned it over a few times and saw several ways of thinking about it. Seeing "nothing" as an entity. It matters in the end. Seeing "nothing" as "seeing no thing as more important than any other thing" matters in the end. Or, don't just do something, let nothing happen for a moment. And on and on.

So I let it be, and let the prayer flags carry it up to wherever they take thoughts to. And yesterday at home I was pressing a few flowers, so I needed the giant dictionary for this purpose, and opened it at random to find a page without flowers and leaves already pressing. The page that opened had, at the heading, the word "nothing."

And at the foot, last word on the page, "nuance."

I always hope that this sort of prayer effort helps the people it's meant to. And maybe that means all of us.


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