Letter from the Director – February 2022

Listening to the Land

I’ve wanted to build a labyrinth at the writers’ colony for a couple of years now. I’m not a labyrinth expert by any means but I’ve enjoyed meditative, prayerful walks around the circuits. I’ve steadied my mind, asked questions, listened for answers as my body turned the path to the center. It felt restorative, a gentle connection of myself to myself within the settled holiness of the labyrinth’s route. I liked that.

However, as I continued to make plans, I began to doubt myself. The labyrinth experience, at least in the way I understood it, didn’t mesh with the way I understand Rockvale. The more I looked into the “rules” and “procedures” for building a labyrinth on RWC land, the more I felt the land calling for something else. My habit is to let the land speak. In order for this to happen authentically, I have to be quiet and listen. I have to be open to the possibility that “my way” is not necessarily the only or best way. I was determined to build a labyrinth until the land whispered another, better idea. It started with a fallen oak tree.

A mid-sized oak fell across one of the wire fences separating field from forest. In my work to repair the fence, I wondered what I might do with the oak. On a whim, I began to chainsaw cross-sections of the wood. They began to look like stepping stones. An idea, that the land hinted at and gifted, began to take shape. 

A true labyrinth felt too structured, formal, and rule-oriented. RWC is about freedom, not formality. Adjacent to the area in which the tree fell is a section of relatively flat, thinly forested land that has, for a good while, intrigued me. I decided to build a “meditative path” in that section of woods. It’s labyrinthine but not really. Structured but not really. It’s wild and free. It enters the doorways between trees and marks the curves of limestone faces. It is becoming real as it unveils itself. One entrance, one exit, no getting lost.

The purpose: to ask questions and find answers, to discover something real about yourself by being open to the language of the land, to know you’re safe on the path so you can dare to face the unsafe spaces in your life. This will be finished soon. It’s a gift to writers from RWC.