I was at Five Oaks, a United Church Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario for a writing weekend. My novel wasn’t going very well and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write anything. When I told the instructor Nora how I was feeling she suggested I write about the struggle I was having. It was like she lifted a great weight off my shoulders.
As so often happens when my writing is not going well I like to walk the labyrinth at Five Oaks as it helps me to organize my thoughts. This is the result of that walk:
I approached the labyrinth much as I do my writing nowadays — with trepidation.
I say a prayer for the kind of guidance that will help me to unravel the direction I have decided to take with the novel I am writing.
As I step forward, I am aware of the power of the labyrinth to bring me back to my centre. Writing is like that for me as well – when it is working. Lately however, the words have become lost to me much like the leaves that cover the brick outlines of the path and cause me to lose my way.
I clear my thoughts as I focus on the space between the lines. As I move forward the cold air bites at my exposed face and numbs my toes as my boots crunch on the frosty leaves. Out of nowhere I hear a voice telling me to, “Trust the Path.” I pause wondering if I am imagining things. No answer comes and so I move on, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, towards the centre. Then before I know it, I am standing at the heart of the labyrinth. I search the surrounding bare treetops where it meets an empty skyline. I glance at the nearby Grand River as it rushes by. I remain a lonely sentinel in search of the truth but finding none.
Perhaps the answer will come in the unraveling I tell myself, so I turn around and begin the journey back. I turn this way and that way, only to find myself back in the centre.
I am running out of time. I must get back to the writing workshop to write my piece for the afternoon session. I cannot bring myself to walk across the bricks that outline the labyrinth, as it would somehow break a spell. The exercise after all is in finding your way. Therefore, I turn around and head back out. Again, I lose my way and find myself heading toward the centre. Again, I try to find my way out. What is the lesson here, I wonder?
Perhaps the writing is not supposed to be easy. Perhaps the lesson is in the level of difficulty and the value that comes out of that difficulty.
Another voice in another time, told me to change the order of the novel I am writing to make the story more compelling. Therefore, I spent weeks shifting things around, yet in doing so I wondered how to segue all the parts to make the story flow for the reader. Was it even possible to make it come together into one cohesive piece of work?
The mysterious voice in my head told me to “Trust the Path” that has been chosen for me. It is evident that I must listen for I cannot put the story aside. It encompasses all the parts of me that make me who I am: The history, the spirituality, the path to a strong womanhood, freedom. If I do not write the story I will lose the heart of who I am. Therefore, I shall continue to sift my way through the leaves on the labyrinth until I find my way back to my centre.
Nora later suggested that message of the labyrinth was that I was already at my centre.
To learn more about Five Oaks visit: Five Oaks Website