Welcome to Labyrinth Paths

Here you’ll find posts about making, tending, and walking labyrinths, as well as musings about turns in the labyrinth paths of life.

Labyrinth – A Poem

Winding PathLabyrinth

William F. Maxwell

The labyrinth is for walking.
Not for trying to understand,
not for anticipating
the quirky turns or sudden
reversals. I’m simply
to follow a path, not
wondering where I’ve been
or where I’m going.

The labyrinth is
for this moment, asking only
that I move quietly along
the ordained path.
Mind and spirit free
to leave habit and comfort
and predictability behind,
I may find surprising openings
to unexpected rooms.
Or not.

 Labyrinth CenterArriving at the center,
I stand immobile and quiet,
waiting to discover
where I am.

Sometimes there seems
to be a new insight,
startling understanding.
Sometimes it is only
a voice saying softly
but inarguably,
Keep walking.


(c) 2014 William F. Maxwell

I’m grateful to my friend Bill Maxwell for permission to publish this poem, on one of my favorite themes. — Margaret

Poets and Labyrinths at Seabeck Haiku Getaway

Spiral labyrinth at Seabeck Haiku Getaway

This photo by Ida Freilinger shows the labyrinths we made at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway.

Gather a bunch of haiku poets in one place, say “Let’s make something beautiful together,” and we are on it. 

Friday, October 11, about 30 poets at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway joined me to make two big double-spiral labyrinths in about 20 minutes flat.

After making the labyrinths, we walked them together, inspired by opening lines to Bashô’s Narrow Road to the Interior:

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on.… every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
(trans. Sam Hamill)

[Read more…]

Puff Balls on All Saints Day

Nature Journal - Puff BallsLate afternoon on Nov. 1, All Saints Day.

It’s been cloudy all day, no rain.

I’m sitting on an old towel that I laid on the labyrinth path outside my office door.

From out of the woods I hear the croaks of tree frogs. Kinglets twitter and flutter above and on all sides of me. Faintly in the distance, the sound of automobile traffic.

Thanks to the autumn wind, the labyrinth path is newly surfaced with plum leaves, cedar fronds, and fir needles.

Small puff balls have sprung up all along the way.

Off to Seabeck Haiku Getaway

Two Double SpiralsDear readers,

I am off to the Seabeck Haiku Getaway for the weekend, where I’ll lead a session on making and walking the spiral labyrinth. It will be fun to see what the haiku poets write on & about the labyrinth!

This means I’ll be off line for a few days, but will return to the conversations next week.

blessings on all your paths,



Fir Cones on Labor Day

From my nature journal:

Mother and Child LabyrinthSitting on the rock at the entrance to the Cretan labyrinth in the side yard. A visitor once named this labyrinth”Mother and Child” because of the dark stones enclosing the white stones.

[Read more…]

On Holy Ground

The labyrinth at H.J. Carroll Park in Chimacum, Washington.

The labyrinth at H.J. Carroll Park in Chimacum, Washington, the way it looks most of the time.

On New Year’s Eve, I took a morning drive out to H.J. Carroll Park to help repair the labyrinth.

A day or two before Christmas, news had spread among local labyrinthers that the meditative path in the park was all kerfuffled.

Someone—likely more than one person—had come into the secluded glade, pushed stones around, cut branches off encircling cedars, and spread the branches on the labyrinth floor. [Read more…]

Happy Birthday to the Courtyard!

Can it possibly be six years? When I look through the Courtyard archives, I know it’s true. We launched this site in Advent 2006. Now Advent 2012 is just around the corner. And yet, the work still feels new to me … maybe because it is constantly re-inventing itself.

[Read more…]

Crossing Over Into Community

Gather a bunch of women to think and talk about community for a day, and ka-boom, you get a community.

Photo by James Hladecek

Forty women from seven local churches met at Grace Lutheran Church in Port Townsend on Saturday, October 6 for a day “Together On the Path – Crossing Over Into Community.”
This photo shows a light moment during introductions.
(All photos in this post by James Hladecek. My thanks to James for letting me share his images of the day.)

[Read more…]

Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature?

Bingo on the Labyrinth

Bingo in the courtyard labyrinth at my home parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend.

I like my routines. Our dog Bingo likes his routines, too.

He wants us to do the same stuff every morning—say hello, take a walk, eat breakfast, settle into the day.

It’s just that Bingo wants to do these things as if we really mean it.

[Read more…]

Every Day is a Journey

leaf skeleton

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.

Matsuo Bashō (trans. Sam Hamill), opening lines of Narrow Road to the Interior, Shambhala Centaur Editions, 1991.

Read passage with haiku responses

Making the Summer Getaway Last

Outdoor Seating

One of the many quirky architectural details in my hometown of Port Townsend.

My husband David gave me a nudge the other day.

Earlier in the spring we’d talked about scheduling a summer getaway. But what with one thing and another, no dates were set. We’re each in the midst of projects that will keep us close to home in the coming months. It was hard to wrap our minds around the idea of pulling away even for a weekend.

But David knows that unless we actually block off dates and make reservations, the next time we come up for air, the summer could be gone. Hence the nudge to get out my calendar and focus. [Read more…]

Bless the Tangle

Bits and Pieces Found Along the WayBless the tangle
Whether it unravels or not—
It has brought me here

Diane, from the spiral labyrinth retreat at Shalom Prayer Center

On May 12, I joined with seven other women in Mt. Angel, Oregon, and we created sacred space together. [Read more…]

Not even fools

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way;

… no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

(from Isaiah 35:8)

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with this excerpt from Isaiah 35:8. (This is one that I like to take with me while making and walking labyrinth paths.) Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

Read complete passage with haiku responses

Creating the Path You Walk

The path is made by walking.    — African Proverb

Friends Kathleen and Johanna, helping me primp the labyrinth for a community labyrinth tour this spring. I met Johanna nearly 15 years ago, when she first taught me how to make a labyrinth.

Whenever I weed and re-set the rocks in our backyard labyrinths, each small task seems to open a door to a memory. And each memory connects to further encounters and mileposts, reaching out into all the pathways of life.

[Read more…]

Letting Go, and Letting Go

Swordfern – Letting go of winter

It’s Lent, and I find myself in a process of letting go, and letting go.

David and I are preparing two plots of our wooded acreage for spring sale. We’ll use the proceeds to build our cottage in town.

I’m ready and eager for the move to town, so my mind wants to fuss about how long it could take for all the dominoes to fall.

Dear mind, I tell the fussy critter, you just have to let that go. 

[Read more…]

Blessing Teamwork

On a PilgrimageMay flowers spring up where your feet
touch the earth.

May the feet that walked before you
bless your every step.

Macrina Wiederkehr

Those are the first two lines of the blessing that Macrina Wiederkehr sent her friend Joyce Rupp before Rupp set out to walk the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. [Read more…]

Clearing a Path

Cloppers in the woodsWhen clearing a new path, it is a lot more fun to hack away and move forward than it is to clean up the mess you are leaving behind.

This insight came to me while clearing a new path on the acre-and-a-half that David and I call Aunt Helen’s Land.

[Read more…]

In the Travel Zone

Dear Hotel Guest, Due to the popularity of our guest room amenities, our Housekeeping Department now offers these items for sale: Alarm Clocks, $25, Coffee Maker, $50.00, Hairdryer, $45.00, Pillows, $25.00.

And so on. The little plastic sign sits on a counter in my room at the airport hotel.  [Read more…]

Turning 60

Me and David at a river outside Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, shortly before my 60th birthday

Turned 60 last month.

That 6 felt kinda big. Drew me to look back over the accumulated years with a sense of wonder and even startled disbelief. Started picking over all the stuff, places I’d lived, relationships come and gone, choices that led down unexpected paths. (Do any of life’s paths turn out as expected?)

Then something—maybe it was the startled disbelief—made me turn, look the other way, and wonder, What will my life will be like five years from now? [Read more…]

My Father Was Zorro

It was 1958, another Thursday night in front of the television set.

Daddy sat in his easy chair, feet propped on the hassock, elbows resting on the little sleeves that kept the stuffing inside the chair’s frayed arms. We three kids sprawled on the oval rag rug.

Sometime between eight and eight-thirty, during Zorro’s commercial break, our father decided we were ready.

“It’s time you knew.” He reached for the bowl of popcorn on his TV tray. “The truth is, I’m Zorro.”

[Read more…]

Mother’s Pearl Pin

Mother's pearl pin and blue scarfI walk under tall hemlocks, opening and closing the black umbrella borrowed from my brother’s hall closet, cutting through the small park at the end of his street before circling back to the house.

cold mist
round a shaded pond
after mom’s service
ducks swim away from me
while ripples widen
[Read more…]

Come to the Party

You Are InvitedSend me a party invitation, and my first impulse is to look for a good reason why I probably can’t make it. Too many nightmare memories of the young Margaret standing against a wall or sitting on a couch, silent and aflame in her very own self-conscious isolation.

[Read more…]

The Comfort of Old Flannel

The two old sleeping bags were rolled up at the back of an upper closet shelf in the bedroom for most of the time David and I lived in our current house, which is more than 16 years now.

Covered in faded green ducking, each bag had an extra flap of the tightly-woven material at the head. The flap, wrapped all the way around the roll, was secured by green cotton cords sewn into the hem and tied in bows. [Read more…]

The Beauty of Holiness

Illuminated Labyrinth at St. Paul’s

On September 23, 2010 (the evening of the harvest moon), Christine Hamby, with the help of labyrinth-lovers from the parish, created this illuminated labyrinth in the Parish Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend, Washington. [Read more…]