The Westminster Retreat at Alamo, California began life as the estate of someone affluent. The property includes a carriage house, pool, and tennis court, in addition to the grand manor itself. The estate abuts a regional park. Today, the retreat can be rented for events like the South Bay Writers’ Workshop, I treated myself to this past Labor Day weekend.
Adjacent to the carriage house is access to a hiking trail. Early one of morning of the workshop I got myself going for a two-mile, mind-quieting, out-and-back.
On the way back, the morning chill sluffed off, I discovered the estate labyrinth.
I entered labyrinth, given its shape by concentric arcs of brick. Perhaps for the first time ever in my life, I felt an otherworldly cloak settle over my shoulders. Immediately, everything outside the perimeter became fuzzy an out of focus: my right brain elbowing my left brain out of the way.
I lived half my life ignorant of the special mission of labyrinths. I supposed them to be the cousins of crop circles and hex symbols. Unaware they are instruments of meditation.
A labyrinth has a single, unambiguous path to the center and back. Not be confused with a maze, a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction.
I stepped forward, and my pace became funereal as I traced the pattern pausing at each turn. There to inhale deeply, alert for anything that might be rising from a secret recess of my mind.
In time I arrived at the cul-de-sac at the center of the labyrinth; those last steps revealed a precipice. I looked out at a long valley sprawling before me.
When I turned around, I looked at a long twisting downhill mountain trail. My pace quickened, and my Left Brain began to intrude, asking the length of the uncoiled labyrinth, the diameter, and other technical questions. He was here to guide me back to the earthly realm. Left Brain recorded steps as Right Brain smiled a see ya’ later. I exited the labyrinth. I turned and saw a 30-foot circle–the long sprawling valley now a 80-foot meadow.