The Physical Gateway

In the 1990’s I was introduced to labyrinths. At first, they were always large physical structures either built into the landscape like ours at UUCG (some massive, some tiny) or painted onto a giant canvas that could be spread out on a floor. They invite us to walk, and in walking a pattern that our brains don’t quite understand, we slowly open to the mystery. We begin to trust ourselves and the universe, even if in tiny little steps. For years, I taught my students, every year, how to draw a labyrinth using the seed pattern. (Here are instructions if you want to check them out). I encouraged them to draw a labyrinth whenever they needed something to help them with all that was going on in their minds. Many told me over the years how helpful that was even though they couldn’t figure out how it worked.

When our son was in third grade, we got notice that he was causing some disturbance in class. We went to see the teacher. The problem? He was tapping his pencil on the desktop. She asked him repeatedly to stop. He always returned to it. She had then punished him by requiring him to write an essay, and when given the choice of a favorite topic he chose soccer. She then took back his choice topic from him and told him he had to write about “landforms.” Two teachers (we, his parents) couldn’t convince this teacher that this forced essay writing on a topic he did not like was only going to make things worse. It did. It was not until a 7th grade teacher noticed the rhythmic tapping which led to testing which put him in the gifted program–where with multiple choices for inquiry, he flourished.

There is a physicality to who we are that has to be in the conversation, that can be a gateway to what’s inside us. Whether its walking or drawing a labyrinth, doodling, drawing a zentangle, going for a walk, a run, swimming, knitting or crocheting, gardening and many other physical activities we love to do, these are our gateways into who we are and what we bring to the world.

~Bob Patrick

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