Sunday, October 28, 2007

My back yard labyrinth

I've started building my labyrinth.
For a long time it felt like a project that was too big for me, but as I kept it in mind and started visualizing it in my back yard, the process of creating it became clearer. I decided to use the Chartres Cathedral pattern. I visited Chartres a couple of years ago, drawn to see the labyrinth, although at that time I knew very little about labyrinths. I came back and ordered a couple of books on labyrinths and found out more about them, but never imagined I would build one for myself in my back yard. However, after I built the studio it seemed that the space outside towards the woods was asking me to create a labyrinth.

I started my process with the help of my son, Timothy. He was brave enough to run the circles for me using a tin of ground spray paint, so what you see in the photo is step 1 - all the circles on the ground. I then bought yards of rope and I have been sitting with the design next to me working out where the entrances and paths lead and laying them out with rope and nails. This has been a meditation in itself. However, the last few days we have had rain - wonderful, wet, soothing, much needed rain - so I haven't been able to work on it. I hope I get to mark all the paths before the paint disappears!

Once I have marked the paths with rope I will be able to walk my labyrinth. And then I plan to dig small trenches where the ropes are and fill them with white pebbles. This will take some time, but I am slowly learning that I can take life more slowly, that I can enjoy the process. The important thing is to start - and then to enjoy every step of the journey.

Doing a demonstration in class the other day I ended up with this piece which made me laugh at myself - yes, the intention of walking a labyrinth is to find yourself!

"Walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. It urges action. It calms people in the throes of life transitions. It helps them see their lives in the context of a path, a pilgrimage. They realize that they are not human beings on a spiritual path, but spiritual beings on a human path."
From "Walking a Sacred Path" by Lauren Artress

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Timing is Everything

Most mornings my neighbor Amy and I go for a walk. It's a perfect way to start the day and Amy often has words of wisdom to share. A couple of weeks ago I heard Amy say: "Timing is everything." It wasn't something I had thought about before, but I realized that timing really can affect our lives in substantial ways - unexpectedly meeting someone who tells you something that affects the way you see something else, having an opportunity that you can't follow up because you are not well at that time, missing a plane, a train, a bus .... Perhaps it is all exactly as it is meant to be, but I can't help but realize just how seconds can affect the whole course of your life.

Recently I was introduced to the term evanescence at a photography workshop led by Brad Berglund. Brad told us that evanescence is impermance or the ever-changing quality of reality, such as the morning mist which fades as the morning rises. When I thought more about this idea I realized that it tied into the concept of "Timing is everything". There are some things that we can only experience once and if we miss them they are gone forever.

My butterfly was an evanescent moment for me. I had seen it fluttering around, but of course it didn't want to pose for me. Then I turned around and there it was. I only had a split second to take the photograph before the butterfly moved on and was out of sight again.

Perhaps if I focus more on being present in the moment I will recognize more of those evanescent moments when they appear in front of me.

"A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere. They are often momentary, chance-sent things: a gleam of light on water, a trail of smoke from a passing train, a cat crossing a threshold, the shadows cast by a setting sun. Sometimes they are a matter of luck; the photographer could not expect or hope for them. Sometimes they are a matter of patience, waiting for an effect to be repeated that he has seen and lost or for one that he anticipates. Leaving out of question the deliberately posed or arranged photograph, it is usually some incidental detail that heightens the effect of a picture – stressing a pattern, deepening the sense of atmosphere. But the photographer must be able to recognize instantly such effects." Bill Brandt, "Camera in London", The Focal Press, London 1948, p. 16