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.)

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7 thoughts on “Angels and labyrinths

  1. 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.

  2. 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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