On the Sunday of Labour Day weekend this year (September 6) I led an informal worship service at Unicamp (north of Toronto in Mulmur, Ontario, on the Bruce Trail between Shelburne and Creemore) on the theme “Circles, Cycles and Labyrinths.” Unicamp is a Unitarian Universalist camp and conference centre on 50 acres of beautiful, varied terrain which includes forest trails, meadows, streams and springs, limestone caves, and a fantastic swimming pond.
When something is ending (such as another summer), we tend to reflect on the cycles of life. The symbolism of labyrinths is associated with cycles, including death, rebirth and metaphorical rebirth into new awareness, as well as with the circle, symbol of eternity and continuity.
As part of the service I read my poem, “The Spiral of Our Days,” written at a time when I was thinking a lot about the complexity of all the different facets of our lives. It is also a poem about walking a labyrinth – and particularly the labyrinth at Unicamp, where at some times of the day you walk one half, the half closest to woods and trees, under the shadow of the trees and the other half through sunshine in the proximity of wild flowers and the sound of a nearby stream.
THE SPIRAL OF OUR DAYS
never finished, going nowhere
the endless snake, always winding,
spiralling ever higher, the magic barber-pole –
the fascination, spun from childhood,
of carousel horses & ferris wheels,
of maypole stripes & the endless journey
to the tree at the centre of the world.
it looked simple then –
the certainly of elevators & dinner-bells,
the waiting & the barber-pole,
the world an elevator
with delineated floors –
before the jungle swallowed,
before the labyrinth
showed us the puzzle
of the facets of our days –
the labyrinth swallows
to spin around the spirals of our days,
with a raven’s wing & a turtle’s flower,
with the maypole dance in its widening orbit
around the morning star.
slowly we start to weave
ourselves into the path,
to engage the spiral of complexity –
perhaps we can trust these perfect circles
in which the world reveals itself,
half in shadow, half in doubt,
sometimes bent with anger or sorrow,
but with the full jewel of its promise:
yet another perfect maypole,
each year the strands weaving differently together,
each year equally whole.
© Helen Iacovino