Monday, 24 October 2011

Maybe I'll Walk This Way

Yesterday (Sunday) on what was a beautiful sunny autumn afternoon in my hometown of Victoria, B.C. I decided to go for a walk. The walk was to be "spiritual" in nature (as it happens, pun intended as it wasn't just about appreciating the visual attributes of nature - though they were stunning - the full palette of autumn colours were set ablaze by the afternoon sun, which created quite literally, a breath-taking experience at points along the journey). So while the walk wasn't purposeful in the "I have some errands to run - it's such a beautiful day I think I'll walk and get some exercise" sense - and in fact though I left home in a particular direction, there was no predetermined destination - how would I know when I arrived one might ask - actually the aim was to be "there" all the way along the route (which was to be determined moment to moment). For one such as me that can be given to very definite ideas of how things should be and how they should unfold - it was to be an exercise in "letting go" and "allowing"

As mentioned earlier the first leg of the journey had me very aware of the splendor of Mother Nature's artistry - as much as I was able, I invited the joining with the experience rather than view myself as being entirely separate from (even for my oft hyper-rational mind I could embrace that this was becoming a distinctly visceral experience therefore I wasn't just seeing - I was involved). Before long I was walking along side of one of the cities large Cathedral's (Anglican as it happens) - I "remembered" that on it's grounds was a Labyrinth - which I then decided to walk. While crossing to it's location I was again awe struck by the beauty of the sun illuminating the gentle giants that have stood their vigil for many seasons (judging by their size) among them, Garry Oaks and Maple trees. As I begin to walk the Labyrinth I realize the path is not clear (I don't mean that metaphorically - though in my case it certainly smacks of the truth) by that I meant that the discarded foliage from the surrounding trees was obliterating parts of the walkway. It occurred to me that the path would be more visible if the obstacles were cleared. Fortunately I'm just the man for the job I reasoned - though without tools my feet proved to be adequate in accomplishing my goal after which I realized that a significant portion of the Labyrinth had been covered. While moving the mixture of oak and maple leaves it occurred to me that though distinctly different the two types of trees coexisted here without conflict. As for their respected offerings (in the form of their discarded leaves) neither was of any less value to the cycles of life, as the remaining energy was returned to the earth as they decompose). I can't be certain, but I suspect neither the oak nor the maple is the least bit concerned about which offers the more dazzling autumn frock nor questions their value.

How is it that I can be so hung up on differences - comparing myself to others - what part do I play in the still existing divisiveness that exists in humanity - when shining the light of truth upon my own heart - what remaining vestiges of fear, ignorance, judgment, narrow-mindedness will I find there? If not blatant prejudices - what then exists in the form of wounds, familial or societal programming - it matters not whether a little or a lot - I must diligently seek them out and and allow them to be transformed - it is through the love, compassion & acceptance of others that I have been able to take those first shaky steps toward love of self - though painful the view in the mirror, it is expanding my capacity to love another.

From the center of the Labyrinth I turned and faced the monolith structure of the Cathedral, I marveled at the magnificence of the architecture - the skill of the trades people and artisans that tolled for untold hours to raise this structure - regardless of the theology within it's walls - I acknowledge the power of Creation as expressed through the human hands that built it. From this same center I consider the words carved upon the wall along the roof line (attributed to Jesus) and at the same time notice high upon the pinnacle of one of the roofs a modern adaptation of the Celtic Cross - a talisman of the transition from the pre-Christian times of ancient Druidic spirituality that was eradicated by the early Christian church. Was it necessary (even advisable) that all that was practiced and held sacred by these early cultures give way to the religions of the colonizers? It would seem that some of what came in it's stead was built upon the underpinning foundations of the pre-existing practices - could there not have then been evolution without bloodshed? I am drawn to one of the largest oak trees (the oak being held highly sacred in the Druidic path) on the property where I then sit and meditate at it's base. On a pathway through my all too human heart - I ponder the components of my present experience, a dogmatic perspective will not allow them to coexist, yet on this occasion I see no need for one to usurp the other. Seated upon Mother Earth on land that was no doubt the traditional territory of one of the First Nations bands beneath the sacred oak from which outstretched limbs reach toward the heavens and gather the wisdom of the universe for those of us not tall enough to reach it. In the background the Anglican Cathedral embossed with the words of the teacher Jesus (whom they for one, claim to represent) with the Celtic Cross towering above the labyrinth. The prevailing energy I am experiencing at this time is harmony - of course I am alone, even the introduction of one more person with whom to share my revelations might well open the floodgates of divisiveness once again - I feel intolerance creeping in - "it seems so simple to me" in my question lies the answer, first the intolerance in my own heart must be laid to rest.

I conclude my visit to the site with a prayer/contemplation session inside the cathedral and then walk down to the park and give thanks upon the First Nations burial grounds along the waterfront.

I am inspired to walk the labyrinth again but further to that to keep it cleared of autumn leaves that it is readily available to be walked by the next seeker. I therefore commit to clear the site for the next 30 days. What do I hope to gain from this - at the very least I want to honour the sacred (does the sacred have to be comprised of some sort of spiritual practice? Perhaps not, possibly the treating of something as sacred, in one's life becomes the spiritual practice - conversely there exist those who "practice religion" but don't hold life itself sacred. It is my vision that my life moving forward be purposeful, that it uphold that which is sacred to me without compromising the sacred space of others. I have also had surprising opportunity created by following what has presented as a "hunch" albeit not necessarily for so "public" an undertaking - who knows where the path leads?