Solitude & Self-Awareness Spiral

Building a Labyrinth in the Backyard

This week I have been reading about labyrinths. I’m dreaming of building one in my backyard. It’s on the “someday” list (along with a pool and a garden). When Spring arrives my attention turns from my indoor living spaces to the outdoors.

As I write this post, it’s early morning. Sun shines on the houses across the street, reflecting off their windows and then streaming in through mine. Branches on the cherry blossom tree are still. As it awakens from winter the tree hasn’t changed much yet but the birds and I know it’s transforming ever so slowly each moment. Broad blue sky. Birdsong seeps through frozen windows, optimistic and cheery. The tree comes alive with movement as the birds perch and hop along the branches, sometimes pecking at the berries. Robins, bluejays, mourning doves, chickadees saying hello, welcoming the new season with excitement. I count eight birds in the tree this morning, two of them cardinals.

A couple weeks ago as I drove home from work an owl swooped close to my windshield and then perched in a tree a couple doors down the street. The owl stayed in the tree as I pulled over, opened the window, and watched it. I tried to take pictures but dusk had just turned to darkness. Lately, I’ve been watching my tree closely, hoping the owl comes here for a visit.

Spring inspires us to re-connect with nature. The birds, trees, and flowers will all be competing for our attention soon. As the days get warmer and the sun shines brighter, we will be called out of our homes. We will be reminded that we are part of a grand living world and just one piece of all that is beautiful. Spring inspires me to be contemplative and mindful and connected.

I think a labyrinth in my backyard would bring me joy, help with connecting me to the oneness of it all. Life. Energy. Love. Nature. Labyrinths are a spiral with a single path to the centre.

You can’t get lost in a labyrinth because the path always leads to the centre and you don’t have choices. In contrast, a maze has many alternative paths and false ways that lead to nowhere. Following a maze requires logic, the very opposite of the spiritual process of surrendering yourself to the only path in the labyrinth.

The Complete Guide to Labyrinths

Walking has always been a form of meditation for me. I have worked through some of my biggest life transformations on long walks. Evening was my favourite time to walk, just at the time that daylight faded to dusk. Anything was possible. An ideal time for thinking and dreaming.

The last few years walking has become more difficult. Widespread inflammation and body aches. A miserable knee. An unpredictable back. It’s rare for me to go for a walk. I worry I’ll get somewhere and then not be able to get back or I already hurt too much by the time I reach the end of my block. So now when I want to journey beyond my street, I ride my bicycle, but it’s not the same as the meditative pace of walking. I miss the simple pleasure of going for a walk as a way to relax and reconnect.

A labyrinth in my backyard would be delightful in so many ways. Built of flat stones pieced together, nothing too wild or rugged. Imagine a nice cozy bench alongside it with big soft cushions. If my legs tired I would be a few feet from a rest before I walked again. Small gardens at its outside curves: one filled with sunflowers. Another filled with roses. Another with an assortment of wildflowers. Tall trees and shrubs providing shade and filled with birds. An artfully stacked grouping of my favourite stones, a selection of Georgian Bay granite.

I can see it all.

This blog is organized using eight spirals that move through my writing and life. One of the spirals uses the metaphor of the labyrinth, Solitude and Self-Awareness. For now, since there are so many barriers to creating my own labyrinth in the backyard (time, money, skill), I will continue to journey through the metaphor in my writing and art.

And while I wait for the day that I have my own labyrinth in my backyard, I can visit them throughout Ontario.

This week during my research I found an Ontario Labyrinth Directory listing all the labyrinths in the province. There is a lot of exploring to do!

Most recently, I walked the labyrinth at Grail Springs Retreat in December 2018.

The labyrinth draws us through its coils so we can explore our inner selves and enter into communion with mythology and history, wandering along its mysterious pathways to the past and future. Within the labyrinth we can dream, meditate, and plan, dance, pray, make love, and light a candle along pathways to a center that may change with every visit.

The Complete Guide to Labyrinths


  • Gwynn

    You captured what I’ve been feeling for a while now. I also like the idea of a backyard labyrinth, but having a rocky treed garden made it difficult for the traditional spiral. I’ve settled on a variation of an infinity symbol and construction is underway. It will have a bench at each end and hopefully in time I will make four pathways branching in the four cardinal directions with a meditative space symbolic of each one at the end of the pathway.

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