Dragonflies, butterflies, and fireflies abound, whizzing and wandering by. Must be at camp! Oh the creatures I’ve seen this week while working on the labyrinth! All of creation seems to be stopping by to check on things. I’ve been greeted by deer, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, caterpillars, spiders, gnats, and bugs of all shapes and sizes – none of which I’m able to name. Pretty incredible to imagine that God named them ALL, knowing the ins and outs of each infinite variety of insect. Wow. Then, of course, there are the birds, who sing above me as I work. On multiple occasions, I have thought to myself, I should really play some music while I work, only to become aware of how incredible the nature soundtrack is if I just pay attention to it. I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Francis while doing this work (how could you not?!), and I find myself talking to all these creatures to break up the monotony of digging.
This week has been man(da) vs. nature, and nature seems to be winning in a really big way! I can’t make it a foot around the labyrinth digging trenches without coming up against a root or rock. I have grown very close to my spade, clippers, and pickax, and can only imagine how bittersweet it will be to say goodbye to them in a week. One week…yikes! I have a lot to do and am rapidly running out of time. Things I am not running out of include: bug bites, bricks, and shampoo.
I began the past week the only way I knew how – by finding center. Finding the center of the labyrinth seemed like the best way to start. Everything I’m doing needs to revolve around the center – both literally and metaphorically. So my friend Elliott and I hammered a stake at the center point, and from there, I’ve essentially made a giant compass with which to draw 8 concentric circles. From there, each circle becomes a trench, where I gradually place bricks to outline the labyrinth. The circles will connect (obviously) to form a unicursal path, though for now, I’m just closing each of the circles until they are all complete. The digging is strenuous and dirty; with my short hair, I’m convinced I’d be perfect for the role of Oliver – poor street rat.
To accompany the physical workout, I’ve been reading a wonderful book that my dad gave me ages ago, entitled “The Maze and the Warrior: Symbols in Architecture, Theology, and Music” by Craig Wright. It’s wonderful to learn more about the history of the labyrinth while creating one. I felt a sense of relief today when I read that labyrinths were usually drawn with the aid of a compass. I guess my giant homemade compass is right on par! The book goes on to say that “in the Middle Ages the compass and the circle it produced were signs of unity and divine perfection, for the circle knows no beginning or end. God, the architect of the world, worked with a compass.” Pretty cool.
There’s always more to say, but I’m in dire need of rest. Know that I’m having an amazing time (as expected), admiring the work of my former campers-turned counselors, building calluses on my hands from playing guitar once again, and developing some incredible arm muscles. Tomorrow morning, I worship at my home church (Luther Place Church in Washington, DC)! Then it’s back to camp for another week. I could really use your support in the form of prayers/good thoughts, financial donations towards the labyrinth, or help digging (if you live in the area)!
I leave you with a song! I wrote this the week before I came up to camp. I was supposed to be writing a choral piece with this text (which I did, eventually), but this came to me first. The text paraphrases Romans 5, and then also uses some Emily Dickinson and St. Julian of Norwich.
Here are the words… enjoy!
By faith God has given us peace,
By faith God has given us grace.
Though trials may come we rejoice because
Through Jesus’ death we’ve been saved!
Trial will teach perseverance,
Perseverance builds character,
And character waters the flower of hope
Which blossoms and blossoms again!
And hope is the thing which sits in the soul
And sings without words and won’t stop at all.
All will be well.