I’m all for trying alternative medicines if I think they may do any good. I’d like to tell you of one that worked very well, but not in the way it was originally intended.
A few years ago I was recovering from major surgery on my neck, and was not sure if I was in remission from cancer or not. I wanted something to take my mind off my troubles. A friend mentioned ‘The Labyrinth’, a grass maze serving as a kind of healing, meditative walkway sited on land adjoining a rambling old Victorian farm quite near us. Okay, thought I, why not give it a go?
Sam was intrigued, and so was Marc, our youngest son who was still living at home at that time. Our friend told us there was an open evening coming up at the farm a week hence, and visitors would be encouraged to walk the labyrinth. As it was nearing Christmas, mince pies and mulled wine were going to be served at the end of the walk, which unsurprisingly gave Sam and Marc just that little push into agreement.
Christmastime in the UK means cold, short days, and long dark nights. When we arrived at the farm at 6pm it was pitch dark, but out in the field beyond the house I could see what looked like a myriad of flames burning high up on poles marking out either side of the labyrinth’s route, and silhouettes of people walking between the flames, one behind the other. I decided I was ready to join them, find my inner Stevie, and set it free.
It seemed a little bizarre as we stepped into the maze. An aroma of chip fat wafted in the air, which we discovered was emanating from paraffin lamps dotted along the route. The labyrinth seemed to be just a path cut out of the long grass, and it meandered and weaved around the field, chip fat and flames billowing in its wake. I would normally be watching the evening news on TV at 6pm, but was now mooching along in the dark in the wet grass listening to Sam and Marc giggling behind me about how the smell of chips were making them hungry.
It was nigh on impossible to sink into a contemplative state of mind whilst aware that my husband and son were almost wetting themselves with laughter a few steps away. I turned around and shot them a dagger-like look, whereby they both fell off the path and disappeared behind a bush, rolling around in the mud with a mirth they could no longer keep hidden.
Relieved to get rid of the pair of them, I tried to empty my head, be spiritual, and think positive thoughts. I followed the moochers to what seemed to be the centre of the labyrinth, where a cauldron of chip fat blazed away merrily. We were instructed to leave all our troubles and worries in the cauldron. Everybody joined hands in a circle around it, and at that point I was so glad that neither Sam nor Marc were anywhere in the vicinity. At the first ‘Ohmm…’ I definitely heard frenzied giggling from somewhere in the darkness behind me and the corners of my lips turned up, but I managed to keep it together. The ‘Ohmming’ went on for what seemed like an eternity, and the inside of my mouth became bitten to the quick. By the time I had traipsed back to the farm the boys had recovered, and had already stuffed themselves full of mince pies and wine.
So you see people, the labyrinth gave us all a good laugh, which is healing in itself, and we still giggle about it today. It wasn’t meant to be a comedic experience and I never did find the inner Stevie, but I did learn one thing from it. I will never take Sam or either of my sons to any kind of spiritual awakening event EVER AGAIN!