Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Miracle of Labrinyths

 This beautiful labyrinth is located on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands at Mt. Washington Plantation near the rain forest where I stayed when I first came to the Island. Here is information about  labrinyths in general and this one in particular:
Walking the Labyrinth – There are many ways to walk a labyrinth. There is no right or wrong way. As you allow yourself to surrender to the path you will find your own pace and posture. You may pass people; let others step around you, or stay where you are. More than one person at a time can be in the center. We are all at a different place on the same path…journeying toward our center. You do not walk the labyrinth to learn about the labyrinth to learn about the labyrinth. You walk it to learn about yourself. Consider everything as a metaphor; be self-observant.
The modern journey calls for self-reflection, a contemplative practice, and a softening towards oneself and others.
What is a labyrinth?
·         It is an archetypal design – a universal divine imprint found in all spiritual traditions, including the Buddhist mandala, the Native American Medicine Wheel and the Jewish Tree of Life
·         It is an outward experience of our inward journey to our center
·         It is an ancient symbol for reflection and growth
·         Its circular, spiral-like shape stands for unity and wholeness
·         It is a walking path of prayer and mediation
·         It is a metaphor for walking the path of life
Who walks a labyrinth?
·         All ages and backgrounds walk a labyrinth
·         A labyrinth is non-denominational and cross-cultural
What is the difference between a labyrinth and a maze?
·         A labyrinth has a single, circuitous path into the center
·         The same path exits the center and returns to the beginning. Thus the entrance becomes the exit
·         There are no tricks or dead ends on a labyrinth
·         There are usually no high walls
·         No thinking is engaged to try and figure out the path
·         The symbolic, intuitive mind is able to come forth
How Do I walk a Labyrinth?
There are three stages:
Release and Reflection
·         Upon entering, acknowledge the labyrinth in some way
·         Release, let go of the details of your life
·         Quiet your mind, become aware of your breath
·         Pay attention to the present moment
·         Meditate on a word, phrase or mantra
·         As other thoughts intrude, let them go and return to the present moment.
Receive, illumination, union
·         When you reach the center, spend as much time as you wish
·         The center is a place of contemplation or prayer
·         The center is a place for you to receive what is there for you
·         Open yourself to joining with the Divine, your higher power, or the sacred healing forces at work in the world
·         Sit or stand in peace.
·         Meet with your inner self, your soul
Return and Integrate
·         As you leave the center, follow the same path back to the start
·         Meditate on the insights, gifts, or healing you received
·         Allow yourself to be renewed as you return to the world
·         Integrate your experience into your life
Why Walk a Labyrinth?
·         Artistic inspiration
·         Celebrations
·         Grief work
·         Healing
·         Meditation
·         Pastoral care
·         Personal transformation
·         Problem solving
·         Prayer
·         Recovery
·         Spiritual direction
·         Spiritual discussions
·         Staff support
·         Therapy
Where are Labyrinths found?
·         Churches/synagogues
·         Colleges/universities
·         Community parks
·         Corporations
·         Gardens
·         Hospices
·         Hospitals
·         Mental health clinics
·         Nursing homes
·         Prisons
·         Schools
·         Spas
·         Theaters
·         Woods and forest clearings
·         Private residences
How Old is the Labyrinth?
Over 4000 years old
·         Chartres Cathedral in France – built in 1201 – oldest existing labyrinth in a Christian cathedral
·         Oldest surviving labyrinth – found in rock carving at Luzzanas in Sardinia (2500-2000 BCE)
·         Oldest European form – Knossos on isle of Crete
·         Earliest surviving labyrinth designs found on ceramic vessel (1300 BCE) in Syria and on inscribed clay table (c. 1200 BCE) found in Greece.
·         First labyrinth  built to be walked – in Egypt (c.1800 BCE)
·         Labyrinths are found on all continents
(source: Nancy Ayer – owner/designer and advanced labyrinth facilitator –
Mt. Washington Labyrinth is a medieval Chartres-Style, 7 Circuit Labyrinth
Q. What challenge have you presented yourself? What spiritual practice have you employed to promote your self awareness and development? What stands between you and living your dreams?
Q. What would need to happen for you to get started?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Falling in Love!

When I traveled to St. Croix to serve as visiting minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix for the month of February I did not expect to fall in love. I couldn't be like most individuals and fall in love with an individual. I had to fall in love with an entire Island and way of life. I had to fall in love with the life style of St. Croix. I fell in love with the people that I met.

You have to get over your fear of "critters" to live on St. Croix. Geckos, small lizard like reptiles are everywhere. I went in the bathroom one day and there was this gecko in my glass! While the fish is not real and part of the decor on the glass the gecko was a living breathing being!

Here I am at Mt. Washington Plantation, a former sugar cane plantation, that has been renovated. I toured it along with my friend and host, Gail Nealon below. Gail is President of the UU Fellowship of St. Croix.

This beautiful structure above is the Washington Plantation, located near the rain forest. It is currently owned by a couple that renovated it and lived in it for a number of years. They now have it on the market for  three million dollars.  Any takers?
This plantation was a sugar cane plantation and this is a machine that was used to extract the beet juice.

These were some ruins we came across. There were a lot of plantation ruins on St. Croix as well as ruins that had been renovated for historical and tourism purposes. 

 This was a very old tree with a lot of character!

Reflections from Across the Waters

It has now been almost two weeks since my departure from St. Croix. Since that time a day has not gone by that I do not think about St. Croix and the friends I met and the wonderful experiences I had while there. I dedicate these pictures to those memories until I return.

I just returned from a three hour funeral that was a beautiful homecoming of my  cousin, Emmanual Thomas that was only seven years older then me. Remember, tomorrow is not promised to us. So go for your dreams!

Q. What dream is dreaming you that you have not actualized? What would need to happen to bring that dream into fruition?

Blessings, Rev. Qiyamah

My first hosts on St. Croix were the Nealons, Gail and Jim. They were delightful and this was the sign identifying their property as I would drive onto it. They lived at the top of the mountain in the Rain Forest!

 The entrance to the Nealons. This gate was erected to prevent unwanted intruders like cows, pigs and goats . The day before I arrived they had called animal control to come out to remove some piglets and an aggressive peacock (mating male) that was attacking any visitors.

 This was my ride while I was in St. Croix. I loved this liberty Jeep. To get to the Nealons required a four wheel drive to traverse roads that would only be called roads in the broadest sense of the word that they had a "path" that had been cleared of brush but were dirt with potholes that were only manageable with a four wheel drive vehicle. Thank you Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix for your gracious hosting and sensitivity to the needs of visiting ministers! Every host was exceptional!

L-R  Gail and Jim Nealon dressed for a fund raiser featuring the 1960s. Hence, the tie dye and poney tail! They were great hosts and a great couple who have a charmed life in paradise! Gail is the hardworking President of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix and Jim is the treasurer.

 This trail  led to another house on the Nealons property that they sold while I was living with them. They sold it to a local attorney and her partner. Lucky lady! I am claiming that I will be as lucky when I am ready to buy!

 This is the backyard view standing in the Nealons backyard. Can it get any better than this? I finally got smart and started doing my yoga out in the back yard with this view as inspiration.

This is the front of their house. It looks very unassuming. Who would think there was such a heavenly view from the backyard!

Funny, I never found time to relax in the hammock. There was so much to do! I never got around to it or missed it! lol

 These pictures depict the beauty of the island!

 More of the beauty!

 I took this picture from the patio of Emmy Thomas' patio overlooking Salt River Bay. What a view to wake up to everyday!

 More beauty!
More beauty!

More beauty! It's everywhere!

This was a random house that I discovered off the beaten path that I thought was destined to be my house. It turns out that someone was living there although the house looked deserted! The house had been partially constructed and looked to me like they ran out of money!

This is the front yard of the house I fell in love with! It has unexpectedly incredible view!
Here is the house. I was looking at it and all of a sudden I heard music playing and I knew someone was inside. But no one would respond to my calls or my knocking on the door. Someone was inside but they clearly did not want to reveal themselves to me! I later contacted Jim Nealon, my host and a realator because I thought he was managing the property. He had a listing for the land next to this house but had no knowledge about who the owner of this house was.

The evidence of rusting machinery in the yard (picture) and an abandoned car in the car port under the house was one sign that the house had not been in use for some time.  The scaffolding looked like it had been in place for some time. I wonder how one goes about checking on the status of property.