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Walking in the World

Behind the Scenes

We were out early Tuesday morning, before any sunlight made its way into the churchyard in Rayleigh. Cold, but appropriately wintry. Despite the chill, it was nice to take a bit of a detour so we could walk through the familiar old churchyard. For the first time this year, I was really aware of the light that morning. By the time I woke up, the sky was already beginning to lighten. The earth is stirring… as am I.

We’ve accomplished a long-time dream this week and launched the Labyrinthos Blog – a site specifically focused on the incredible labyrinth-themed information, photos and archive items that that cross our desks here in Labyrinthos HQ. We’ve been working long hours in our back-to-back desk chairs, clicking on our keyboards, cursing at our frustrations, but generally enjoying the experience of seeing some plans come together. In addition to my work on the Labyrinthos Blog website, Jeff is giving the official Labyrinthos website a complete overhaul, which is, of course, a painstakingly tedious task. It feels vitally important to be bringing our online presence into line with modern technology. We have so many wonderful things in our tiny little office that we want to share!

I have finally gotten some clarity on how my three websites/blogs can work together. Up to now, I have subscribed to a my-blog-my-rules philosophy, and have put authentic expression above clarity for my readers- a writing style that has been incredibly rewarding for me, but perhaps a little confusing to search engines and some readers. In my head, however, I’ve been been playing with new ideas for organizing and presenting my eclectic interests and passions – and I finally have a plan! Walking in the World will continue to showcase daily (quotidien) life, discussing whatever I find as I explore the world around me. Sometimes that will be my local community, the stuff of the Backyard Pilgrim, and other times it will give you an inside look at the amazing places we go as part of our labyrinth work. Eclectic, spontaneous, spiritual in an earthy and grounded sort of way. Footprints, pilgrimages, and hand-knitted socks. I want to show you my ‘Quotiediens’ as well as my ‘Cathedral Moments,’ and introduce you to the amazing people I meet along the way. I’m not even going to try to post every day, but I promise you some good stories, told from the heart and hopefully some good companionship.

My other website, Ariadne’s Thread, has been patiently waiting in the background for the past two years while I’ve focused on Walking in the World, but Ariadne’s stirring restlessly now, and I’m sensing a major change for that blog. I’m not going to give away the surprise, but watch this space in the coming weeks!

All three blogs/sites will have different email notification lists, so please have a good browse and sign up for the posts that you want to receive. Naturally I hope you’ll opt for all three – of course I do! But whatever you choose, thanks for joining me on the Path.

09 Feb 2017

Tribal Voice 2

My original post was hacked but they can’t silence me! My wonderful web host has determined that there is no malware anywhere on my site and helped me tighten my security. Apologies to those who are receiving this post by email for a second time.

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This pretty much sums up how I’m feeling today, 24 hours after The March.

I will admit it wasn’t an easy thing for me to do; I’m an introvert and usually try to avoid crowds at all costs. But there comes a time when it is necessary to put aside personal comfort and preference and dive into the world. That day was yesterday. And something pretty amazing happened, personally as well as collectively. I found my tribe.

I have community all around me in my daily life, both in my local village and online, so it’s not just that. Yesterday I belonged. I blended in with a larger whole, without ever losing my own identity or voice. Most of you would never suspect how often I feel like I don’t quite fit in, don’t quite belong, how I’m never sure if who I am is enough. Yesterday, marching through London amongst that great sea of humanity, I came home to roost within my own being.

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Today, as I consider how best to move forward after the exhilaration of yesterday, I have a new freedom, a freedom to speak what I feel from where I am right now. Oh, believe me, there were people who were more protest-savvy than me, people who were wittier and more articulate than I will ever be. But no one else can speak for me, no one else comes from quite my experience or perspective. My voice is my own, and it can sing in concert with the vast sea of people who are working to make the world a better place.

Photo credit: Emma Lynne Anderson

This morning I wrote letters to the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, things I’ve never done before. And then I compiled a list of Trump affiliated businesses to boycott. Starting out as I mean to go on!

(Not all the photos on this post are mine. There are so many going around on social media, that I grabbed a few without knowing who to credit. Thank you to the many marchers who shared their images and enthusiasm!)

04 Feb 2017

January Chill

We have been waking up to icy weather conditions this week, and we can’t help but marvel at the icy artistry of Mother Nature. Jeff snapped this photo of the icy stream coming out of the cliffs at Barrow Brook on the Isle of Sheppey yesterday while I stayed home warming myself by the fire.

I am clearly not the only one choosing to keep my feet warm. This medieval depiction of January is found in the Castello dei Conti de Ceccano which we visited when we were in Italy last month. I feel such an affinity for the guy!

23 Jan 2017

Roaring into 2017

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There is a lot of pink in Labyrinthos HQ this week. And black, too. In solidarity with the many who protest the Trump inauguration, I’m dressed head to toe in black today, and have blacked out our television and news feeds during the ceremonies in Washington. It feels kind of petty, but I needed to do it anyway. But my pink knitting? That’s another matter entirely.

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Along with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, I’ll be marching in support of human rights and fundamental decency tomorrow. I’ve been knitting pink pussy hats to wear and share, and am taking that small act one step further by knitting a series of mini hats to carry on behalf of others who would march if only they could. My mother who died 37 years ago (and definitely wouldn’t appreciate the world situation now), friends who don’t have local marches to join, and a total stranger I met online who won’t be marching in London because of health issues. She is a veteran of numerous past protest marches, and has been a great support as I’ve prepared to walk out of my comfort zone this week.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a political platform, but 2016 has taken the world in some directions that alarm me, and (like many) I am using my annual winter hibernation to think about how I want to respond, and how I want to walk forward into 2017 and beyond. I started by looking for a word, as I do most years. I worked with Susannah Conway‘s (free) workbook, exploring my thoughts and feelings until finally one word knocked all the other contenders out of the arena. I wanted something sweet and hopeful, I really did,. Something nice to counteract the hatred that seems to be boiling in the air. I narrowed my choice down to two words, cultivation and creativity. Great words. Super words. But under my skin, I was itching, and those words didn’t even begin to address my discomfort. Mrs Nice just can’t take this any more! I heard myself start to mutter and moan, and what I really wanted was to roar with indignation and despair. Actually, not just roar, but ROAR!

And there I met my word for the year. It scares me. Challenges me. Inspires me. Time to step up and out of my comfort zone. Whatever that means. This week it means showing up for the Women’s March on London.

And I have some great adventures ahead of me this year…

 

20 Jan 2017

Threading the Maze

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December is flying by, and we have been out and about, travelling to Spain and Italy to both broaden our research and deepen our connections with friends and fellow labyrinth enthusiasts. But despite being physically out in the world, I am feeling particularly quiet and pulled-in this year. 2016 has been a year of extremes – great travel and deep pilgrimage has woven through alarming world events. My quiet soul is struggling to make sense of it all, and putting words into blogs has been an overwhelming challenge.

I have never felt so uncertain, so lost in the maze of conflict and confusion. And yet…. I feel gifted by unexpected opportunities and privileges. There are horrible atrocities taking place on our planet, but at the same time my world is filled with sparks of light that set my heart ablaze.

We will close the Labyrinthos HQ office tomorrow, as is our custom – from Solstice to New Year, we allow ourselves to snuggle in by the fire, eat good food, watch movies, talk over memories and come up with new plans and ideas.

Let’s welcome 2017 together, taking one step at a time into whatever comes next. Labyrinthos will introduce a new face to its online presence, and I’ll be catching you up on some of our 2016 adventures here on Walking in the World.

May we find new ways of spreading joy and love this holiday season!

Photo above is an old Christmas card from the Netherlands, part of our extensive collection of labyrinthine ephemera.

20 Dec 2016

A Taste of Italy

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We couldn’t resist. The Italian Food Market came back to Rayleigh yesterday, and we wanted to soak up the feast of food, accents, and conviviality. We’ll be back in Italy in a few weeks, so we saw this as an appetizer, a little sampling to whet our appetites for the real thing.

A calzone for Jeff’s lunch, some salami and olives for our pre-pizza nibbling, and some longing glances at the torrone and pastries… Maybe I should move to Italy…

20 Nov 2016

Lest We Forget

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At the end of this difficult week, we are remembering our war heroes and the difficult times that led up to their becoming heroes. We are thinking of ultimate sacrifices and life-changing injuries. We are thinking of broken societies past and present, and looking into our own hearts for courage and a moral compass. And as we remember the past, we should be asking ourselves hard questions about the future. Britain does not shirk from remembering, weaving ritual and tradition into the fabric of modern life.

I was at the pub with the Bitter Knitters on Wednesday evening and happened to notice this memorial above the fireplace.

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When I looked more closely, I found family:

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I’ve told you a bit about the story of Bert Louis Saward in an earlier post, and I’ll say more next spring when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death at Flanders. As I stood in silence at our Thundersley village service this morning, I found myself thinking of Bert, wondering who he might have become and how the Sawards of today might have been different had he lived. Remembrance is as personal as it is collective.

When you go home
tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
we gave our today.

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Thundersley’s memorial is new this year; thank you to the committee who made it happen!

Photo by Martin Hayhurst(Photo © Martin Hayhurst)

 

13 Nov 2016

We Will Remember

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The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. We will remember.

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(Button memorial in St. Martin’s Church, Little Waltham, Essex)

11 Nov 2016

Raiders of the Lost Carp

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He sits in the tree at the bottom of the garden like an angel on top of a Christmas tree, right at the top, watching. His prey is our neighbour’s koi carp, so his menace is real – but it’s still kind of exciting to see this huge Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) fly in every morning. He’s only a youngster, but he’s clearly already learnt where to find an easy breakfast.

Jeff calls him Jones.

10 Nov 2016

Pantsuit Nation

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I’m with Her! I had tears in my eyes when I marked my ballot and voted for an immensely qualified woman for president of the United States. I did that way back in September, the day my overseas ballot arrived in my inbox, and since then the election (as everyone knows) has really heated up. It was nearly unbearable until last Wednesday when a friend added me to the secret Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation – back then there were less than 200,000 members and that seemed immense, but this morning, the total is over two and half million and still growing. The stories and images posted in that group this week have been overwhelmingly positive and poignant, and have gone a long way toward restoring some of my faith in humanity.

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As I said yesterday, I’m favouring dresses and leggings these days (after years of wearing jeans and sweaters), but today I’m wearing a makeshift pantsuit and a homemade I Voted sticker to stand in symbolic soldarity with my candidate and her community. As an added protest, we’ll be eating tacos for dinner tonight – take that, Mr. Trump! I stand in support of the diversity that has already made America great.

And my thanks go to the Overseas Vote initiative that has done so much to make voting both possible and straightforward for expats like me!

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08 Nov 2016

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