The Writer’s Labyrinth
By S.Kaye Judge
It couldn’t have been more idyllic. A large red-brick, country cottage quietly tucked away on the edge of the woods of a countryside campus – blue sky–white clouds– moss green grass, and great graduate classmates who had become friends. A writer’s retreat: a rest from the rest of our busy lives, yes, but writing is hard work. I always knew this, but wasn’t really committed to it as one should be, with real work.
As I gazed out the window from my writer’s spot, I saw a field of grass, tall trees, flowering plants and a friendly deer who ventured out daily, thinking she was alone, while her babies hid in the bushes nearby. She could trust the writers in this hidden world. Even serious writers are allowed special interruptions. Some distractions must be given our full attention. I saw the beautiful, bold mother deer and stopped to wonder. But I didn’t see the labyrinth. It was there, between myself, and the beautiful trees: between myself, and my writing. It was hidden.
Labyrinths are like puzzles. A labyrinth is described as ‘an ancient symbol used as a spiritual tool for prayer and meditation, healing and transformation’. Just as the labyrinth walker has no other decision to make other than to keep walking, so with the writer—the writer must let the process of writing be their guide. An article, book, poem, narrative, biography, research study – these writing styles develop according to the conventions of the labyrinth you choose. There are many different kinds of labyrinths, but the way of the labyrinth applies to all. It will not be a straight path. You will move forward and back and around, in and out, until you reach the end – an open space of reflection and contemplation. It is here that you will celebrate a successful ending to your journey with friends who have travelled with you.
Walking the labyrinth as an outer journey can awaken one’s soul to the realisation that we are connected to nature, to other walkers and to the creative centre of our being, and our universe. The way is not perfect. There are many turns that seem to lengthen our journey. If we relax and let the patterns lead us along the way, we connect with deeper things within us and more meaningful things without. We slow our steps. We contemplate, reflect and some of us pray. We become aware of deeper life meanings. We take the time to listen inwards, outwards and upwards.
Nuanced stories interrupted with commas and conventions form like the musical scores of a grand march, or the soft sounds of symphonies and lullabies. Like thumbprints in the hands of a detective, our written words disclose our identities to discerning readers. A writer’s purpose and motivation is exposed, as issues of justice and injustice reveal the inner and outer worlds of self and others.
Writers, musicians, dancers and artists begin their creative journeys during childhood. I was four years old when I first became aware of the magic of writing. It was my older sister who got to ride the red school bus to a faraway place where pencils of all colours decorated clean white pages. My sister’s mark making had talking power. I wasn’t allowed to use her pencils but I found a way to create magic with ‘talking patterns’ of my own. I made circles, dots, lines, crosses and wiggles upon clear cold windowpanes as I watched the school bus arrive and disappear down the road. Mondrian masterpieces and Mozart concertos emerged, as I breathed child-sized puffs of warm misty air into empty spaces exposing clear snail trails where my fingers had danced on glass. Silently, traces of me –my imaginings, my mark-making – emerged as scribbled stories for the world to see.
In reality my world was small. But the old tin mailbox – always on sentry duty beside our lonely, dusty road – caused the mailman to stop and deliver letters and packages. My mother would smile or weep as she devoured the interesting marks on tissue thin, white pages. Treasured messages from friends and family in faraway places brightened my mother’s life. My four-year old heart slowly formed a deep awareness of the power of the written word. I saw this in my mother’s eyes – my mother’s heart. Hearts and souls bleed through ink like invisible writing on transparent glass. If I could write like this I could create magic to warm my mother’s heart.
I have learned to warm many hearts, and some readers tell me I have change their minds and lives. Writers cast their own imaginings into everyday scenes, future worlds, and bygone days, as gifts to readers. The authentic writer doesn’t just write with words and conventions, but with heart, soul and mind, creating and recreating new possibilities and exposing hidden truths. The space between the writer’s heart and the heart of the reader is bridged in silence. Thoughts transmit like telepathy along printed lines carrying unwritten meanings.
A writing persona reveals whether the writer is being true to self or a hidden other. How do we bring our true self to the task of writing? By asking ourselves some questions: Why do I write and what is my purpose for being? What moves me and makes me brave enough to expose my inner world and why should I do it? What do I have of value that I can offer the world? Whose lives deserve to be in print for the inspiration of others? What journey have I taken that has gifted me with enough wisdom to contribute to the worlds of others? Why should I care so much? What would leave me with deep regret if I died never having tried to achieve it?
When you solve your own labyrinth puzzle, and write authentically – exposing your true, transparent self – your heart reaches other hearts with words and meanings they cannot otherwise find.
About the Author:
S.Kaye Judge is an educational administrator involved in staff development at Sonoma Adventist College of Higher Education, New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea. She has a special interest in early childhood education and is currently completing a dissertation for a Doctoral degree in Leadership from Andrews University, Michigan, USA.