Monday, November 07, 2005

Golf courses as labyrinths

Back at the end of August, James went golfing with his Grandpa. He came home excited to show me his score card from the Lampman course, and how difficult (long) Hole 3 was. He pointed it out on the little map, but (sorry James) I was distracted by a flash of recollection. The sketch of the course powerfully reminded me of the layout of a labyrinth.

This summer we spent a week at the Calling Lakes Centre (or Prairie Christian Training Centre, PCTC for short). Garth and I were helping Anita Warriner of Alameda area to lead the "Summer at the Centre" program, which is sort of a cross between summer camp and a rest-and-renewal retreat. Among activities ranging from nature walks to home spa sessions to watersliding...

(the water is just pumped up from the lake;
the plastic is used again and again)

...we also offered participants a chance to help build a labyrinth for the Centre. The labyrinth is a tool for meditation, laid out with a single path leading through many curves and turns (but no forks) into the centre. You can't get lost; you simply walk until you reach the goal, perhaps pause there to reflect for some moments, and then retrace your path back out again. The labyrinth we built is a classical 7-circuit design, laid out on a grassy area with stones marking the boundaries of the paths.

I discovered today that there is a variation on the classical design, called the Baltic type, which has one path in and another path out, allowing a continuous procession without the necessity of meeting other walkers on the return trip.

How different is that from a golf course?

I wonder if the similarity has been noticed by any of the numerous authors writing about the spirituality of golf.


Madcap said...

I heard about labyrinths originally on the "Tapestry" program on CBC radio, and then sporadically ever since. I like the whole idea of physical prayer since I can't really stayed focused, and if my body is moving in a set pattern, at least I'm doing something.
I use a rosary from time to time, not because of any special devotion, but I appreciate the feel of something real in my hands.

There's a book you might like, published by Novalis, called Mary's Flowers - Gardens, Legends, and Meditations, by Vincenzina Krymow. It focusses on the Marian/feminine spiritual tradition through the plants that were associated with Mary during the Middle Ages. Each entry begins with a meditation, and proceeds to a history and explanation of the legend of the plant.

It also discusses Mary-gardens and has a few photos of some lovely prayer spaces. I made a small Mary-garden myself in the backyard... but roses are difficult here ;-), so I think I'm going to give up on that particular plant and use something less prone to aphids.
It's hard to concentrate with little bugs flying up your nose.

arcolaura said...

LOL! That reminds me, I never did get around to catching one of those tiny flying bugs that were thick in the air here this fall, to ID it. Not that they were hard to catch - just breathing near any hedge would get you several.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I would be very interested in the spiritual tradition part of it, but the garden part...I have to admit I haven't developed much patience for gardening. This surprises people, I know. The trouble is, I much prefer the spontaneous intricate designs of a patch of undisturbed prairie or parkland, over the small, simple designs of my mind's creation in a garden. And whenever I think about working in the garden, there's some prairie calling me...

arcolaura said...

MCM, these folks might interest you:
Edmonton Labyrinth Society