Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Driftwood Labyrinth

Sunday morning when we woke up, it was still raining, and we thought that may put a damper on our plans for the day--sorry folks, those who know me well know I couldn't resist this pun!!  But it turned out to be one of the most remarkable days we've had, and you know from my earlier posts we've had a whole lot of remarkable days.  Anyway, since it was raining, we decided to just head up to Courtenay, about the northernmost point on the island on our agenda, and hope that the rain cleared by the time we got there, rather than stop at some other places along the way.  This turned out to be the right decision, as the rain did in fact clear up for us.  Where we were heading was a place called the Ocean Resort and Spa, really more of a place like a retreat center rather than just a conventional hotel.  It took most of the morning to get there, as the speed limits on the highways on the island are a bit lower than in the States, even lower than the 58 mph we've been accustomed to driving, to maximize our mileage on the RV.  There are basically two routes to this point, one more inland and one more along the eastern coast.  We decided to take the inland route up, and the coastal route back.  This is just a lovely island, no matter where you are--in many places it's reminiscent of the Olympic Peninsula, which is no surprise since they're so close, but in other ways it's different, but still quite striking and it's always great to see new places.

When we neared Courtenay, we stopped at a visitor center to get directions to the location we were seeking, and the woman there was most helpful.  She was quite emphatic that we shouldn't miss the chance to explore the western side, on the Pacific Coast, and the Pacific Rim National Park.  We hadn't really planned on doing that, since this whole trip involves making choices, but she convinced us otherwise.  Went there today, but that's for the next post!  Anyway, this visitor center was really very nice--lovely design, with lots of beautiful wood, both outside and inside, and a display paying tribute to the Canadian Air Force, since a big installation is nearby.

We got to the Ocean Resort around noon, so we had lunch before going to see the labyrinth.  We had called before making the trip to make sure we would be able to walk the labyrinth even though we were not staying at the resort, and they said of course.  Well, Trisha had seen pictures of this labyrinth for years, and I've gotta say, it's about the most unusual one we've seen so far.  Of course, the labyrinth in the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France is the ultimate, but this one is certainly unique.  It's a 7 circuit, classic--or Cretan--style, rather than the Chartres style that I'm more familiar with.  But the pathways are made entirely from driftwood, logs, beams from ships or other structures, branches, stumps, all that have been washed up on the shore of this property.  The driftwood pieces are placed vertically in the ground, sticking up in varying heights, but on average about 2 1/2 feet or so.  There's a spectacular archway as you enter the labyrinth, the pathways are quite wide, in fact plenty wide enough for us to walk hand in hand for the last couple of revolutions as we neared the center, and the driftwood forms sort of a wall between the paths.  As you look up, you can see out into the bay, mountains along the edges; look a bit the other way and you see a lovely vegetable and flower garden, fenced in with driftwood.  There are chairs along the edge of the beach, for just sitting and meditating as you look at the sea.  As we walked it for the first time, the magic just hit us like a storm--hard to describe, but this was one powerful labyrinth!  I suppose part of it was the setting, with the beach and the sea and the air; part of it was the effect the driftwood had, with the different shapes and forms of the various pieces of driftwood mesmerizing you with images that their shape and form conjured up; part of it was the center, where there is a heart shaped stone, surrounded by bleached white sea snail shells; and the rest of it was, I don't know. . . just the magic and power of the labyrinth itself.  Some places seem like sacred places because of what's been done there, some places seem like sacred places just because they are, and I suppose this place has some of both there.  Anyway, it was just an incredibly awesome experience, and the effect it had on both of us was quite something.  We just felt like the world suddenly had taken on a golden glow, every little thing was gonna be all right, and just wow, wow, wow!  If anyone is coming to the Labyrinth Conference, you get to choose which ones you want to walk--this one is about the farthest away from the hub of the conference, but if you have the chance to do this one, don't miss it!!

We walked over to admire the garden, then came into the comfortable common room--hard to call this a lobby, but there were driftwood shelves, decorations, and big spirals all around.  Out front there are two large chainsaw carvings--one entitled Eve, which shows her with the apple and the serpent, and the other was untitled, but is of a woman, holding out a huge hand, with a baby in the palm of the hand--like a big Earth Mother of all life.  Both were quite stunning and powerful.  We drove back down the coastal route to Parksville, where we spent Sunday night and tonight (Monday), and decided to forego a couple of other labyrinths we had initially planned to see, since we just felt like this one experience was so incredible, we didn't want to clutter the mind/spirit with others.

Anyway, just one incredible day!

Beautiful low hanging clouds/fog patterns over the mountain!
 Can you believe it, the hardwoods' leaves are already turning!

 Visitor Center

Incredible flowers as we came into Courtenay, running for blocks and blocks like this

 Field of corn as we went past the other side of Courtenay, on the way to the labyrinth
Mother Earth


Inside the common room

 Outside on the grounds

 The garden

The labyrinth

 This piece of driftwood looked so much like a cross, right as you entered the labyrinth
This bench was right in the center, overlooking the heart stone

The entrance arch
 Let your mind wander freely as you look at these remarkable shapes of driftwood!

 Changed the setting on the camera for some of these, to give a different lighting cast

 Like the fingers of a delicate hand!

The whole beach was covered in these smooth, round rocks

 This beautiful driftwood canopy over these chairs--what an unbelievable place to sit and contemplate the tides of life
 This inscription on this piece of driftwood in the canopy is definitely true about this place!!

 Amazing roots above ground of this tree!

On the way back south to Parksville
 Bison grazing in a field along the road
 Beautiful flower bank as you come into Parksville

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