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Pilgrimage to Muscatine Labyrinth

Sometimes the experiences that yield the greatest learning are the ones that don’t follow our expectations and desires.  A group of labyrinth enthusiasts joined me on a pilgrimage to the Muscatine Labyrinth in the Arboretum on Harmony Lane. Tucked into the “elbow” of Hwy 61 on the northwest corner of Muscatine, this Arboretum with its well-crafted labyrinth is a true gem. My first experience there on July 31st was simply magical.  And, I wanted to share this with others.

So a small group of us headed out to Muscatine on Sunday, August 13th.  A mild day. I-380 to Hwy 218 to IA 22 East flows into Cedar St. to Houser St. to Harmony Lane.  What a great name!

The Labyrinth

Co-Founder

We hear about the arboretum.

When we arrived, instead of a quiet entry, we were basically waylaid by an elderly woman who turned out to be a co-founder of the arboretum.  She enthusiastically shared all about the history of the founding, where trees were planted and puzzled over “that structure” – pointing to the labyrinth.  In effect, she told us passionately about her love of the space, how hard people worked to make it happen and how proud she was of the results. She insisted we had to see various structures and parts of the arboretum.  All the while she was quite oblivious to the fact that we were there to walk the labyirnth. Other features would come as possible.

As I chafed to accomplish our “goal”, the members of the group were kind. And, so I learned, too, that even when – especially when – our plans are impacted by other circumstances, it is how we are “in the moment” that matters.  Eventually, we were able to communicate why we came to Muscatine’s Arboretum . Ms Lynn was puzzled as she moved off slowly with her dog.  She sat and watched from afar as we began.

My role as facilitator was to hold the space for people to walk peacefully.  Suddenly, Ms. Lynn was right in our midst on the labyrinth speaking loudly, “You have your shoes off.  Why do you have your shoes off? You don’t have to take your shoes off.”  So, I walked quietly to her and managed to steer her off the labyrinth itself.  As she continued to talk and point out features around us, I inched her farther away from the labyrinth.  Staying centered and calm and compassionate to her needs was a struggle for me. Even when I stated that this is a time for quiet for the walkers, she loudly declared that there is not much time for that anymore. Definitely ironic.  Again, she moved off and watched the walkers.

I circled the labyrinth slowly to hold in the sacred energy and offer a buffer for the walkers who completed their journeys peacefully.

When I asked later how they felt about the intrusion and interactions some were neutral. Others slightly amused. Some acknowledged her presence and chose not to engage.  Others were grateful I guided her to the side. Rose pointed out that likely we were the first people she had talked to all day so her enthusiasm spilled over.  And, Lijun noted, “She is part of the story.” Thank you both for perspective.

We followed a path across a wetland to the Veterans’ Memorial – simple and elegant. Then, back to the cars.

By county roads, we drove up to Tipton for dinner at Mi Tierra. Then up IA 38 to US 30 and home. Great meal and some synchronicity for Amy Kris Ackman as you will read soon.

Reflections

Standing.

Feel the earth under your feet.

Rose Gabe found the labyrinth much longer than others in Cedar Rapids.  She gamely walked the circuits, paused occasionally, assessed the journey and continued on.

Robyn Miessler-Kubanek observed: “Walking the labyrinth barefoot was marvelous. I go barefoot as much as possible in every other context, so feeling the decades’ old bricks under my feet while studying their shapes and scars brought focus and depth to my walk. How many others have those bricks held upon the earth? And how many more will they support? Yet their roughness made me happy to finish and walk in the grass again.”

Lijun Chadima:  “I felt a history there connecting me from the past to the present and walking toward the future.  The energy at the center is so great.  I liked the square that I could walk four corners then sit at the bench before I walked to the beginning where I started.  I liked walking on the old bricks.  I also liked the trees touching me while I walked.

“The flan completed the good meal at the Mi Tierra.  The chiles rellenos were great.  Mi Tierra is a right size restaurant for a small town.  A roadside farmer’s stand made me connect to the earth we are living.”

Entry

Inviting entry.

Cyndy Logue: “I felt very connected and noticed an energetic feeling in my third eye chakra.  Last night I looked back through my Earthing book and found this helpful: ‘Earth Qi is absorbed, without thinking about it, when we walk barefoot, which may explain why it’s so relaxing to walk without shoes and why exercises geared toward strengthening the body and relaxing the mind (yoga, tai chi and qigong, for instance) are often practiced without footwear. A central focus in Chinese practices involves “growing a root” and has to do with opening up communication between the bottom of the feet and the Earth.’

“I think the energetic feeling was a reminder to just go with the flow and be present for the experience.  Dinner at Mi Tierra was a great way to close the afternoon! Thank you again for coordinating this fun excursion!”

 

Amy (Kriz) and Mark Ackman: “My experience with this labyrinth was interesting. When we were interrupted by the lady commenting on our bare feet while we were barely on our way, I just had to chuckle. I thought maybe I didn’t need to take things so seriously and could just take people as they are (or meet them where they are) instead of trying to fit them into my expectations.

“After (we ate) in Tipton. I couldn’t believe that our destination restaurant was located right next door to a store called Wild Angels Expressions. When I saw it, the name looked familiar. Then, I recalled that earlier that morning, while rummaging through boxes of paperwork from the basement, I found a beautiful little card from a friend. The card spoke to me so much that I thought I could reuse it to make a new card for another friend. I was so impressed that I flipped the card over to see the brand and saw that it said Wild Angels Expressions! I had never been to Tipton before.” {Yet here was a card from that very place! We call that Synchronicity!}

“Thanks for inviting us, leading us, and opening and closing the space for us!”

The afternoon was wonderful for us all.

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2 Responses to Pilgrimage to Muscatine Labyrinth

  1. Jacqueline N. Hull August 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    I’ve never walked a labyrinth before, but I love walking barefoot on my hard wood floors in my house. There is something spiritual about feeling with your feet. I totally appreciated the interruption from the elderly lady. That my friends is called
    a moment to cherish. I’ll bet it helped make her day too.

    • Rich Patterson August 31, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

      Jackie, go to the World Labyrinth Locator on the internet. Enter information (be sure to put US) and find ones near you or where you are traveling to. I see one in Bedford, New Castle and two in Roanoke, VA

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