In future years, I’m sure many of us will look back on the things we’ve done over the past rather weird 18 months with a sense of wonder, or perhaps consternation. But very few of us during that time will be able to say that they, like my next door neighbour, Mairi, have constructed their own labyrinth.
Mairi attends a local Episcopalian church which has, for much of the past year, been unable to open to its congregation. Mairi began work on her labyrinth last year: an act of personal devotion in the absence of her collective.
Mairi carefully measured and calibrated, dug, excavated and built the labyrinth herself, with the help of her trusty (and very heavy duty) mattock.
She began the project on October 1st, and has worked on the labyrinth virtually every day between then and now, in weather fair and foul. On even the most inclement of winter days, blasted by rain and wind, snow and sleet, Mairi laboured on with her mattock, digging out the labyrinth.
The stones which surround the labyrinth, and mark its inner paths, were all dug from the ground by Mairi (which as owner of the adjacent garden, I can attest to being largely composed of heavy clay, and full of gigantic stones). This labyrinth was formed from really hard, physical work!
Once the measuring, digging, excavating and wall and path building were complete, Mairi planted the labyrinth’s beds and laid gravel between them. The end result is truly stunning, and will doubtless become more so, as the plants spread to fill the beds in future years.
Tom and I occupy the adjacent garden, as I said (and indeed I can be spotted photobombing below). While our raised-bed vegetable plot and gravel are all right angles and straight lines, Mairi’s garden is full of wonderful sweeping curves.
I don’t share the same faith as Mairi, but I do appreciate how the construction of her labyrinth represents a significant act of faith and devotion, and how it, as an object and a space, provides opportunities for discipline, practice, and reflection. I also greatly appreciate being able to see it every day – among the many other wonderful things I see and experience daily as I do, living here, in this landscape.
I think Mairi’s labyrinth just sings of resourcefulness, determination, and creativity – all of which are characteristics of its maker. I’m already looking forward to Mairi’s next garden project, which will hopefully be a self-built chapel.
Thanks, Mairi . Photographs by Tom.