At the still point of the turning world…

26th June: a beautiful summer’s day at Ferrar House Retreat Centre, Little Gidding, well known for its association with the poet TS Eliot. Many thanks to Judy Fox for taking care of running the Labyrinth Day for me while I was recovering from an operation, and to Wendy Skirrow for her enthusiasm, hosting the day and looking after everyone so well.

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If you came this way,

Taking any route, starting from anywhere,

At any time or at any season,

It would always be the same: you would have to put off

Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,

Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity

Or carry report. You are here to kneel

Where prayer has been valid.

TS Eliot (Little Gidding)

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The group made a corn labyrinth on the lawn in front of the house and spent time reflecting and enjoying the natural beauty all around, especially the plentiful bees and butterflies visiting the garden. After lunch the group made the 10 minutes’ walk to Steeple Gidding, where the cloth ‘pebble’ labyrinth was laid out in the beautiful space of Saint Andrew’s Church.

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At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered.

Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

TS Eliot (from ‘Burnt Norton’)

 

Quiet Waters Labyrinth Weekend



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What a lovely Bank Holiday weekend we had at Quiet Waters, Bungay in Suffolk a couple of weeks ago! By a happy chance our weekend coincided with the auspicious date of Saturday 3rd May – World Labyrinth Day.

Here are some photos taken by Felicity and Diana over the weekend – there are lots of our beautiful corn labyrinth, of course, but I also love the ‘Pentecostal tulips’ in the chapel – just beautiful.

If you missed the weekend, don’t worry! There are plans for another labyrinth weekend at Quiet Waters, and maybe an Advent labyrinth day, too.

And don’t forget that Quiet Waters welcomes visitors at other times too – as day guests seeking some peace and quiet, or for longer stays. You can find out more at http://quietwaters.org.uk

Woodland pathway

Woodland pathway

 

Bird's eye view of the labyrinth-making

Bird’s eye view of the labyrinth-making

 

First labyrinth walk

First labyrinth walk

'First Sunday' Service and Labyrinth Walk, Quiet Waters

‘First Sunday’ Service and Labyrinth Walk, Quiet Waters

 

Candlelit labyrinth at nightfall

Candlelit labyrinth at nightfall

 

Sunset over the meadows

Sunset over the meadows

 

 

'Pentecostal' tulips

‘Pentecostal’ tulips

 

'In this place I will give peace'

‘In this place I will give peace’

Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Labyrinth

Addenbrooke's Mental Health Resilience Labyrinth

Kay and a team of helpers made this temporary labyrinth out of poured sand and LED tea lights for Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Week. People of all ages and backgrounds came to walk it. This magical photo was taken at nightfall from the top of the staff car park by Jan Sellers. Find out more by reading the Addenbrooke’s Mental Health Resilience Week page on this blog.

The Chartres-style labyrinth at Saffron Walden Maze Festival 2013

The Chartres-style labyrinth at Saffron Walden Maze Festival 2013

Maze Festival visitors walking the cloth Chartres-style labyrinth in the Saffron Walden Friends’ Meeting House, 17th August 2013. The labyrinth was kindly loaned by the University of Kent and the photo was taken by Saffron Walden Camera Club. For more about the Festival do read the Maze Festival page on this blog – and visit http://www.saffronwaldenmazefestival.co.uk

Chartres in Saffron Walden, Radwinter School Maze Day and more!

Chartres Labyrinth Walk: on Saturday 17th August I will be facilitating an open labyrinth walk of a full sized canvas Chartres labyrinth, on temporary loan from the University of Kent. You will find me in the Friends Meeting House in Saffron Walden between 10 and 4.  The labyrinth walk is part of a larger event, the Saffron Walden Maze Festival, which will be celebrating the town’s unique heritage of the wonderful – and very large – turf labyrinth on the Common, and the recently restored Victorian hedge maze (the sort you can get lost in!) in Bridge End Gardens.

 There are all kinds of labyrinth and maze related activities planned between Friday 16th and Monday 19th August. For more details, keep an eye on the maze festival website, www.saffronwaldenmazefestival.com.uk  and do come and join in. It is sure to be an excellent weekend.

 Looking a bit further ahead, there will be some labyrinth-related happenings during Addenbrooke’s Hospital’s ‘Mental Health Resilience Week’, between 7th and 12th October. These will include the cloth ‘pebble’ labyrinth in the Chapel (please email to check precise times) some beautiful, locally-made finger labyrinths; and a walkable labyrinth on a grander scale outdoors.

 Finally, here are some pictures from the recent Maze Day at Radwinter Primary School, near Saffron Walden. We all had a very busy day with some lovely quiet, reflective moments too. Thanks to Emma Horton for having the idea, and to Mrs Hockley and all the staff for making it happen. Photos and examples of the pupils’ fantastic, creative work will be on display in the Court House, Saffron Walden, during the Maze Festival weekend – where you will also find interactive games for all ages and the ‘giant tilting maze’.

If you would like to have a similar labyrinth-themed day at your local school or other community or group, do contact me for availability, information and ideas.

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Invitation: Lode Chapel Quiet Day with ‘Pebble’ Labyrinth

You are warmly invited to a Quiet Day at Lode Chapel, Cambridgeshire, on Saturday 18th May. The theme of the day will be ‘Waiting for the Comforter’. Meeting on the day before the church festival of Pentecost, we will reflect on being open to all that the moment brings, opening our hearts in trust and anticipation, much as the disciples must have done, gathered together, on the eve of the first Pentecost. 

You will be gently guided into periods of silence… there will be the opportunity to wander the churchyard with its wildflowers, the pretty village of Lode and the footpath to the lode and water mill at the back of Anglesey Abbey. Kay will bring the cloth ‘pebble’ labyrinth for walking, and a selection of inspirational books, finger labyrinths, writing and art and craft materials.

The day will run from 10.45 to 4.00. The cost is £15 (please make cheques payable to ‘Lode Chapel’) and please bring lunch to share. If you are planning to come, please email Kay at singing.kay@gmail.com

If you can’t come this time but would like to be on the mailing list for future occasions, do let Kay know.

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Labyrinth of Light

In February, I was fortunate to be in Edinburgh for the launch of a new labyrinth book and to experience a wonderful labyrinth light projection made by labyrinth enthusiast and artist Jim Buchanan.

The venue was Old Saint Paul’s church, magnificently dark and dim, with just a few sparsely placed candles twinkling in the gloom. The book to be launched was Working with the Labyrinth, edited by Di Williams, Jan Sellers and Ruth Sewell, and published by Wild Goose Press. The light artist Jim Buchanan has contributed a chapter on his work with labyrinths, and there are stories to inform and inspire from many other contributors.

Walking in a labyrinth of light and shadow

Walking in a labyrinth of light and shadow

Next morning I went with Jan to visit the beautiful Chartres style labyrinth in George Square. As I paused in each of the six petals of the centre I reflected on peace of heart, calm in the storm, and the pilgrim journey of life.

February sunshine on George Square labyrinth Edinburgh

February sunshine on George Square labyrinth Edinburgh

I was also happy to see an old friend, a robin, hopping around in the surrounding yew hedge near the labyrinth entrance. Whenever I encounter a robin, I remember one morning a couple of years ago when a robin flew into my bedroom through an open window. This robin stayed a while, looking most unconcerned, hopping from dressing table to bookshelf and back. I’d woken that morning feeling distressed by confrontations going on in my life. Intrigued by my visitor, I looked up the traditional symbolism of the robin, in our own and North American indigenous culture. Just as I guessed, I found what I needed to hear that day. The robin teaches us to disarm our adversaries and mark our boundaries, not with fights and disagreements, but with the supremely positive forces of creativity and song.

Last stop on my labyrinth tour of Edinburgh was the Emmaus House Community, who gave us a wonderfully warm welcome. Jan and I visited their lovely backyard labyrinth made of round stepping stones on gravel chips, interspersed with alpine herbs. After our labyrinth walk we enjoyed some peaceful time in the garden chapel and then joined the community in their midday service. We were then made very welcome at a lunch table loaded with good and wholesome things to eat.

Emmaus House stepping stone labyrinth, Edinburgh

Emmaus House stepping stone labyrinth, Edinburgh

It was a beautiful labyrinth interlude, perfect for brightening the cold days of February. Thanks to Jan for encouraging me to go and to Dave and the family for taking care of things at home. I felt I had slipped into a parallel dimension for a couple of days… Lovely.

Midwinter Dreaming

 

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Dear blog visitor, Christmas blessings of joy and peace to you!

May 2013 herald a new era of compassion, justice and truth,

starting right here, right now.

 

Some words from the 16th Century mystic, Theresa of Avila:

Christ has no body but yours,


No hands, no feet on earth but yours,


Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
compassion on this world,


Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,


Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.


Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,


Yours are the eyes, you are his body.


Christ has no body now but yours,


No hands, no feet on earth but yours,


Yours are the eyes with which he looks 
compassion on this world.


Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila

1515 – 1582

This snowy holly photo was taken a couple of years ago on a very cold, wintry visit to the Chelmsford Diosecan retreat house, which stands in the ancient moated village of Pleshey.

I remember in  the chapel there was a kneeler decorated with a labyrinth…

an early signpost on my labyrinth trail.

Another memory: one night, I headed out of my room to go to the bathroom and was surprised to see a large bat flying around in the stairwell. At Pleshey bats are often sighted in summer, but they normally hibernate in winter. Further investigation revealed that in the Native American tradition the bat is symbolic of intuition, dreaming and vision.

Appropriate themes for midwinter… Time for rest, renewal and dreams of new beginnings.

 

Listening the Labyrinth

Cambridge University Botanic Garden, August 15th 2012. This film documents the making and walking of a temporary corn labyrinth – part of a day of reflection for members of Cambridge’s homeless community, organised by Kay Barrett, Judy Fox, and Cambridge Link-Up. Thanks to Richard Wright of Moon Safari for making the film.