Saturday, March 30, 2013

Walking the labyrinth

In the week before Easter, it is time to take my annual pilgrimage. I go to St Matthew-in-the-city, which I have visited at this time for the last four years.
 There I find the labyrinth awaiting me. It is set out in river stones and candles each year, for the four days before Good Friday. Some of you have walked the labyrinth with me before. And now you can enter it again. Do you have a question? Pause a moment and let the question surface from the depths, like bubbles arising from a deep bush pool.
 My question arrived as I was sitting on the bus. When the right question comes up, it's often surprising. For me, it was like a moment of illumination.
At the end of my slow walk to the centre, just as I was about to leave, a surprising thing happened. I heard a voice, arising as if from nowhere. 'Would you like to go upstairs?" I looked around and could see no-one. Again, the voice came from the shadows: 'Would you like to go upstairs?' Then I saw her, sitting in a back queue, the woman who had earlier been tending the candles.
'Would I?' I love upstairs, and always have.
After all, I grew up in Taranaki, where the great cone of the mountain inspired me throughout my childhood. I wrote a whole book —a memoir called Touching Snow—about my childhood yearning to reach the mountain. (click to see it on my books page, and scroll down to the bottom)
The woman pointed me to a secret staircase in the corner. 'You can open the iron gate,' she assured me. And so I pulled aside an iron concertina gate, like the ones they used to have in lifts. I trod carefully up the narrow stone steps, that twisted around in darkness. Then I came out on to the balcony, and there below I could see the whole—and take a photo.
And so my pilgrimage was complete. And my question was now answered.

15 comments:

Diana Drent said...

A candle labyrinth. You also walked through it and what special that you should do it so quietly. It calms your mind.

Thanks for this beautiful post!

Anne Ruffell said...

How lovely. I woke this morning thinking of Terry and the first thing I did was to look at your blog and I walked the river of candles with you, and it was all so appropriate and fitting my mood. Thank you for beginning my day so beautifully.

juliet said...

Thank you, Diana. It was very calming to do this - like being near the sea, which you love so much.

juliet said...

*Anne, how wonderful that your thoughts about Terry could be taken into the labyrinth. I'm so glad. Thank you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet .. fascinating and how gorgeous - must be amazing to just be ...... within the Church.

Is it in Waitakere?

Happy Easter and have a lovely time with the little one ..

Cheers Hilary

juliet said...

Hilary, hi. It is beautifully set up, and the church is right there in the heart of the city. Thank you, and I hope it's getting warmer over there!

Lynley said...

What a splendid treat to be allowed through the secret door which enabled the final photo.

I can walk it in my mind now with it all laid out before me on the screen.

Hotly Spiced said...

I love secret passageways and I would have definitely taken the stairs as well. Is that the interior of a church? What happened to the pews? I do like the candles. Do they just have them for Easter? Happy Easter to you and your family xx

juliet said...

* Lynley, it was such a treat. I love secret and hidden places, and it was marvellous to be able to see the whole.

* Charlie, the winding stairs were so dark I had to watch my tread. It's the interior of a large church, with the pews pushed back so that they flank the labyrinth in 3 rows. All of this happens just in the week leading up to Easter. It must be a big thing to set up. The candles on the altar were there to be lit for anyone special. I lit one for a friend who has had surgery.

Marja said...

Oh I love the candle labyrinth What a wonderful idea and what a special thing to do on Easter. What a nice gesture to show you the way to make this wonderful picture

juliet said...

Marja, it was wonderful. Maybe you will find one in your travels around the country. I know that some have been created in different places, including outdoors.
Thank you for visiting.

Anonymous said...

This is the most beautiful and amazing labyrinth I have ever seen and I am so thankful for the view of the whole labyrinth. I remember your post from last year. Thank you for sharing it again. I just wish I could walk it. Blessings.
Farm Gal in VA, USA

juliet said...

Farm girl, what a nice comment! I'm so glad you enjoyed the labyrinth. There's something special about returning to it each year. Thank you.

Penny O'Neill said...

How wonderful to take this journey with you through this labyrinth, Juliet. How warm our souls feel in sometimes the most amazing ways when we find the answers to our questions. Thank you.

juliet said...

* Penny, so glad you got to walk the labyrinth with me this Easter. I love what you say about our souls feeling warm when the answer comes to a question. That is so true; I know just what you mean.