I Did on My Summer Vacation
© by Diane Terry-Kehner, USA
Wednesday, August 13th, 2003 was a warm but misty day at the New
Jersey shore. I was with my family on our annual two week vacation
in a condo that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Each day, I drew
a different type or size labyrinth on the beach. Right and left
turning classicals of 3, 7, 11 and even 15 circuits took their
turns, along with some Santa Rosas and Hopi Mother and Child labyrinths.
But this day I wanted to try something I had never drawn before,
not even on paper: A Chartres. I made a quick sketch from a picture
in a book, slipped it into my beach bag, grabbed my drawing stick,
said a little prayer, and made my way to the beach.
The tide was nearly out and I was led away down the shore to a
particular spot where the sand was smooth and empty. Using my
body as a compass, I drew the center circle, then ever growing
concentric circles, keeping track of the count in my head. I was
aware that people were watching my efforts with great curiosity.
A few asked questions while I worked, which I gladly answered.
Finally, the 12th circle was complete, and I took out my sketch
to see where to draw the switch-backs and cut in for the entrance
and goal. It was much easier than I thought it would be to eye
things up and give the right proportions to the four quarters.
Although it was by no means a perfect Chartres, the damp sand
was very forgiving of my mistakes, and shortly I began to round
off the turns and add the six petals in the goal. I decided to
leave out the lunations. Erasing the lines between the turns with
my feet, the labryses appeared. I was very excited.
By now, several people were gathered around listening to me explain
the origins and purposes of the Chartres labyrinth while I finished
my work. One man, who spoke with a slight accent, revealed that
he was French-Canadian. I lived in France for two years and speak
French fluently, so our conversation switched seamlessly into
French. What a thrill to have just drawn my first Chartres and
to be discussing it in the language of the country where it was
created! Then he called his family over and explained the whole
thing to them in French.
Before I realized it, people were already on the labyrinth, following
the spiraling paths in awe. More and more people flocked to the
labyrinth: tiny toddlers, children, teenagers, moms and dads,
grandparents. Dozens and dozens of people walked right out of
the mist to enter the Chartres labyrinth, journey to the center
and back out again. I was warmly thanked many times.
that day after I returned to our condo, I looked down the beach
to the spot where I had drawn. Although it was too far away to
make out the lines, I could still see people in the mist walking
round and round, back and forth, pausing in the center and retracing
their steps. And in the evening the rising tide claimed another
labyrinth as my gift to the ocean.