It was hot in Tucson. Not scorching like it had been for the last four months, but hot. Low 90s.
I had slipped into Beyond Bread to cool off with an iced tea and use its wi-fi to check my email. I had a message from my friend Christina: she had a new posting on her blog (check it out at christinanealson.blogspot.com). She described a labyrinth where she’d recently taken a walk.
Inspired, I logged onto labyrinthlocator.com to see what I might be close to. Bingo. There was one about four miles away, in the yard of a church.
It was a lovely church grounds, and I wandered a bit, finally noticing a patch of desert to the east with a sign that said Desert Sanctuary. Made perfect sense.
I walked down the path, and there it was. It was fairly large – maybe forty feet across, laid out simply with desert rock. Near the entrance was a ramada with shaded benches, and just to the side was a peace pole, a 6×6 post, set into the ground, and standing over six feet tall. On each side the word ‘peace’ was written in a variety of languages, maybe fourteen or fifteen in all. Simple, like the labyrinth.
Christina had walked her labyrinth barefooted and suggested it. Well, she is in Montana and was walking on wood chips. I am in Arizona in an area of many thorned shrubs like cholla, prickly pear, and even the mesquite and whitethorn. And the path was of pebbles. I kept my shoes on.
The labyrinth appeared to be perfectly aligned to the four directions with the entrance on the south. The north-south line extended from the center circle nearly to the outside edge, with just one pathway open at each pole. The east-west line did the same, with openings on the far east and west.
I walked it slowly, pausing at each cardinal point to say a little prayer of gratitude. When I reached the center, I first faced each direction and said another brief thanks and then also thanked Father Sky and Mother Earth, stretching first up tall and then squatting down to put my hands on the ground.
I stood there a few minutes, taking in the near silence. I was amazed it was so quiet as it stood a mere half block from a fairly busy road. But quiet it was, and I relished it.
Then I slowly made my way back out and took a seat under the ramada. The twenty or so minute walk under desert sun had left me quite hot and thirsty. But as I walked back out to the parking lot, I saw a path off to the south that I’d noticed on the way in.
Over a little bridge and onto a pathway that noodled around and completely circled the labyrinth. And each sixty paces or so, there was a bench and a station of the cross.
What? For some reason, I though walking the stations of the cross was a Catholic thing. Here I was at a Presbyterian church and there was a simple walk through the stations. With the labyrinth, it was quite an ecumenical event.
Eventually, the path circled back to its entrance, and I crossed the hot tarmac to my car, which I’d parked under a big, shady mesquite.
M-m-m. Cool water.