In January 2016 the Labyrinth Guild was formed to offer the public access to and support the use of the Labyrinth at Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa. However, when considering how to mark the Summer Solstice this year it seemed obvious that we had to find an outdoor location.
I always enjoy making a labyrinth outdoors and the prospect of a Summer Solstice event was a great moment to observe with a labyrinth walk, so why not at the Beach? In Canada we celebrate National Aboriginal Day on the Summer Solstice, so fitting a tribute our First Nations people.
We choose Westboro Beach on the Ottawa River for its wide open expanse of water and sky and its small natural sand beach. We chose this place because it’s not too big, yet it has lots of room for both a labyrinth and the beach crowd.
They say “necessity is the mother of invention” and that would be what inspired our methodology in creating a labyrinth pattern in the sand. We drew the pattern in the sand but it was not distinct enough to discern the path so we used a watering can and water from the river to retrace and emphasize the pattern. The outer and inner rings of the labyrinth were lined with cedar branches and a large copper pot filled with water was placed at the centre. We surrounded the labyrinth with a ring of poles and paper streamers which caught the slightest breeze and brought an element of aliveness to the whole scene.
Today urban dwellers experience some degree of what has come to be known as “Nature Deficit”. A phrase coined by author Richard Lowe where he points out the degree to which we have fallen out of relationship with Nature, especially for our children. It is in the nature of being human to not care for those things we don’t know and love. Hence the environment is at risk and evermore so when we don’t have personal experience interacting and living in close relationship with Nature. Contemporary urban folks now spend most of their time indoors.
And so it seems appropriate to connect the practice of a community walking meditation in the labyrinth with our relationship to the Earth and most especially at the Summer Solstice. Without walls to limit and protect, we can better sense our connection our place between the vastness of the heavens and the earth beneath our feet.
The sound track for the evening was simply the ambient sound of a city beach in summer. The Setting was the sound of the place; a small deposit of sand at the edge of a great river surrounded by the city. We added the heartbeat of the drum to bring in the human element and hold us all within the space.
The evening ended with a glorious sunset that spread across the sky in a most perfect way and brought the day to a close. Gratitude to all who volunteered to help out with the set up and clean up and thanks to all who attended.
Enjoy your summer,