Angels and labyrinths

So, yesterday was a day to give myself up to making snow angels – see what a natural I am here …

(modest too.)

But last night I got all worried about driving through to Canterbury for my weekly tutorials. I hummed and hawed so many times before rousing what little pioneer spirit I have, packing my thermos and rug, and finally setting off. I needn’t have worried. Once past my house, the roads were clear, and the snow drifts got fewer and fewer until by the time I got to the university campus there was only a few remains of snowstudents to be seen.

Because I’d left so much time before my first appointment, I decided to walk the university’s newish labyrinth. It doesn’t look much at first, to be honest – a snaking brick path amongst the turf,

oh but see the view …

However, no time for that. I set off, eyes down, aiming straight for the centre.

This is easy if a bit pointless, I thought. Time for a coffee at least before class. But then the path veered off to the edge, and then off again, so I had to give myself over to walking a circle looping back in and out again and then again, before I made my way – strangely reluctant now – to the middle.

There as if in celebration was an old sports sock – this is a university after all, anyone else noticed how there are always stray sports socks hanging around on campus? –

but the experience was worth much more than that. I stood still for a long while, calmed down, being present, happy now that I hadn’t rushed straight for the goal. And then I walked it all again, much much slower now, back to the beginning. Time seemed to stand still which was a gift in itself.

(And then the students all produced exciting and interesting work, which was yet another gift! I credit the angel… you must admit, she is rather fine.)

This entry was posted in canterbury cathedral, labyrinth, Snow, university of kent. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Angels and labyrinths

  1. Nik's Blog says:



  2. Douglas Bruton says:

    I saw her in a window, not painted or gilded. Just the wood, and all the marks of the chisel visible. Her wings an arch at her back. Fine feathers, nicked and fluted. Her face like a child’s and her hair a halo of curls. She was playing a musical instrument. Plucking the strings with perfectly small fingers. I could almost hear music. It’s one of those times when desire got the better of me. I wanted to have her. To take her home with me. She was perfect.

    I knocked at the door. A man in shirt and trousers, the straps of his braces slipped from his shoulders, spoke no English. He wrote figures down on the corner of a newspaper. I paid the money and he wrapped her in cloth and then paper and then tape.

    I could not believe that she was mine. I left, grinning and nodding and thanking him over and over. Maybe he understood. He watched me leave the square and cross the canal by a small brick bridge. I wanted to ask him for directions to take me out of the labyrinth of Venice’s back alleyways. Instead I took two hours to get back to St Mark’s square with my treasure.

    And that is a true story. I have the angel still… not gilded or painted… just carved wood.

  3. Nik's Blog says:

    That is one lovely story, D. Will you put a picture of her up on your blog for us (err, me)?


  4. Sarah Salway says:

    No, US. I’d like to see her too, Douglas! Thanks, Nik.

  5. Douglas Bruton says:

    Thanks Nik and Sarah… will put up something at the weekend and let you know when it is up.


  6. Nik's Blog says:

    That’s the spirit Mr B!

  7. jem says:

    What fun.

    Have you read ‘Larry’s Party’ by Carol Shields. There is lots of great stuff about mazes in that. I think they are fascinating. I think I went to a fair few on childhood days out with my family. I think there should be more of them around – every town could use at least a little one. There is something comforting about losing yourself only to find yourself again within a short space of time.

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