As I was recovering from my surgery and wondering how I was going to manage this trip I got an image of being passed from the hand of one person to the next. A lot of my progress has been an approximation of that. In going from North to South Carolina it was literal. Catherine Anderson kindly drove to a meeting place where me and my bag were handed over to the precious Beth Langley who is a labyrinth builder, facilitator and Montessori educator. With Beth I got to visit the Liberty Hill Lakeside worship area with a labyrinth, a medicine wheel and bird houses marking out the stations of the cross. We drove past pine plantations, Southern mansions and numerous signs marking significant sites for both the Revolutionary and Civil wars.
All across the UK people were ‘vaping’ e-cigarettes with special stores dedicated to the products. In the Piggly Wiggly supermarket in Camden, you can still buy chewing tobacco!
Through Beth I got to learn of the Celestial Labyrinths designed by Adrian Kezele of Croatia. Apparently he has a huge property where all 9 of them have been built. Croatia has gone on the list of places I have to go!
Springbank Eco- Spirituality center is on the site of an old cotton and rice plantation. The labyrinth is shaded by a huge Live Oak tree with tendrils of Spanish moss hanging from it. The Dominican sisters who run the centre choose to live simply, to create beauty and to respect the Earth and all beings. Their dog, Shelly, was found injured in a ditch and frightened of human contact. They took her food and water daily until she learned to trust them.
An African American family reunion group arrived just as we were leaving to visit the gravesite of an ancestor on the plantation.
A couple of the labyrinths that Beth and I visited were in beautiful, lush settings but proved, at this time of year, to be impassable swamps. One special one that we did get to walk was in the grounds of Bon Secours St Francis Hospital in Charleston. It was opposite the cancer center in a huge and peaceful garden despite its location right by a busy road. As I walked it I thought of the people who were dear to me who died of cancer, of all the patients I’ve cared for over recent years, of my dear friend who is training as an oncologist and all of my colleagues who continue to work in the field. How they all could be nurtured if they had such a place to spend time when the going got tough.
After a full day of visiting places dedicated to peace Beth received news of a pipebomb having exploded in the Jewish Montessori school of a colleague. It was a distressing and sobering development.