On the last day of the Nashville trip we drove to Springfield in search of yet another labyrinth. After the past few brick and grass structures we were in for a surprise. Arriving at the address we were greeted by a giant rocking chair over 20 feet tall! We entered what appeared to be a small rustic village with a sign that read ‘Nostalgiaville’. A long covered plank sidewalk was lined with worn storefronts. An enclosed wooden tower three stories high, with windows on all 4 sides of the top floor, overlooked the grounds. We looked for someone to direct us but saw no sign of life, so we started exploring. There was a lattice and vine covered walkway that played Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road as we walked through. It opened onto what at first appeared to be a large garden. We soon realized it was a gigantic labyrinth. It was 60 feet from side to side with a path over 4 feet wide. Outlining the twists and turns was a strip about 18 inches wide outlined with landscape timbers and filled with small trees, bushes, flowers, benches, bird baths, rock piles and ornaments of all types and configurations. The strip was divided into sections for each state and filled with memorabilia deposited by visitors. It was magnificent!
The size allowed us to walk side by side, but as we explored the treasures along the way we each found our own pace. During this walk I contemplated a past relationship that had ended badly, and felt the pain I had held on to for so many years disintegrate. I realized the ending had freed me to move on, to discover neglected areas. I recognized my own responsibility for suffering, and the way I so easily aimed the blame at others. The behavior felt familiar, and a pattern came sharply into focus. I was there again, thinking if I loved hard enough I could fix someone else’s broken pieces; then feeling disappointed, resentful and angry when it didn’t work. Who was really broken here? Where did this fixing idea come from anyways?
Along the way I noticed there were no weeds on the path or the divider, items were thoughtfully placed, and numerous flowers were healthy and blooming despite the heat that had marked the last few days. I felt honored to be able to walk in a place that meant so much to whoever cared for it. We later met Cheri. She alluded to her obvious poor health but spoke with energy and excitement as she described her ideas and plans for this odd place – her passion. Listening to her made me wonder about my own passion. Did I have one? The room we were in was covered with 12” by 12” sections of assorted assembled puzzles, placed next to each other like quilt squares, full of color and interest. Brewer, the St Bernard, strolled around us with an easy attitude that fit the place. Cheri showed us some rooms she rented out with decks that overhung a running creek. She explained: “I ask people to pay what they feel is right, or what they can afford.” One room was enclosed in the limbs of a large tree. I pictured myself staying there, hidden in my own tree house. As we walked with her I felt a powerful connection different from anything I had ever felt so soon after meeting someone.
We stayed a bit and explored some more. We met Arnie, who led us to a building that housed a museum of every kind of soda can imaginable – many that I had never heard of – stacked neatly on specially built shelves – obviously his passion. Then we walked to the creek and removed our sandals. I tried to follow my sure footed friend into the creek, but the rocks hurt my feet and I could not go far – a true tenderfoot! Yet as I climbed up the steep bank I noticed feeling exactly where my feet were on the rocks, grabbing with my toes, using them to guide me to more solid footholds when the soil was loose, as if they had just awakened from a long nap.
Before I left I gave Cheri my favorite green beaded bracelet that I had made and worn almost constantly for months. I don’t know why I needed to do this, but I did, it felt right. I wanted to come back and stay sometime, help do something here, maybe hold a labyrinth walk. But I never did.
My friend continued on towards her place in Louisiana and dropped me at the airport on her way. Nashville had offered me the comfort of its ‘countryness’ and a new awareness of the joy in the music I had rejected for so long, along with a growing acceptance of my roots. A last minute trip that I imagined would be about escaping and spending time with a friend had turned into a quest full of discoveries and the opening of parts of myself buried long ago.