Photo: Juliana Sohn
I am lying at the center of my labyrinth, my arms and legs spread out. I'm breathing quietly, taking deep breaths, letting them out slowly, at first consciously, then naturally, without thinking.
I don't want to think. I want to be still. I want to be at peace.
My labyrinth is at the top of a wooded slope overlooking St. Mary's River in southern Maryland. It is flat, 50 feet in diameter, constructed of pale gray concrete with a darker gray design etched into it. The circle itself is surrounded by a collection of gray stones from the river, which in turn is enclosed in a square of gray slate. The pattern of the labyrinth is a circuitous path that ends at the center in a rose pattern, symbol of the feminine, of beauty, love, and the divine.
Walking the labyrinth is different for everyone. For me it is a form of meditation. It is also a path to the sacred.
On this warm, cloudless day in mid-September, I lie with my eyes closed. I absorb the sounds of the birds in the nearby trees, the rustling of leaves, and the rhythm of the waves lapping along the shore. I take another breath. And another. I wait for the tears but they don't come. I have an odd sensation of being totally embraced, totally filled with love.
I have just buried a vial of my mother's ashes beneath the river stones at the entrance to the labyrinth. My mother died only a few days ago. Now that the funeral is over, I am here alone, grieving for her in my own way. I loved her more than anything in the world. I don't know any mother and daughter closer than we were. I could never imagine being without her. Now I am.
This labyrinth has sustained me through many crises. Around the circle are buried cherished mementos: My late father's Buffalo nickel from the Korean War; a crystal rose from my son, Quinn; a small replica of the Indian god Ganesh; a crystal with healing energy; chunks of stone from the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral from which this one was copied.
And now my mother's ashes. I kiss my fingers and touch the spot where I buried the ashes.