Sunday, October 27, 2013

Walking the Pumpkin Labyrinth

Yesterday I got to my church early to help set up for the Fall Festival we were having.  I wasn't really needed, so I walked over to our pumpkin patch. 

We've sold a lot of pumpkins since we unloaded the truck 9 days ago!  There were pathways through the pumpkin piles, so I walked slowly, dare I say, meditatively.

I thought about how similar it was to walking a labyrinth--and how different.  The main difference, of course, is that a labyrinth goes in a set pattern so that there's one way in to the center, no matter how much the walker winds around the center.  The pumpkin patch didn't have that quality.

It was an interesting difference, to stand and see all the pathways open to me.  In many ways, that felt more like real life.  Each path seemed equally appealing--again, like real life.

I have always envied people who have one pressing path, the way they know they are supposed to go.  I admire people who don't let themselves get distracted by all the other possibilities.  I do wonder if they get to a point in life where they feel some sorrow about all the experiences that their singlemindedness denied them.

As I walked the pumpkin "labyrinth," every so often I caught a whiff of the pumpkins themselves.  You may not think that pumpkins have a smell, but after spending 3 hours carrying them during the offload from the truck, I'm here to report that they do.  I found that organic smell to be wonderful.

There were also places where I could tell that a pumpkin had met its end.  Here and there were piles of seeds and pumpkin muck.  And some of the pumpkins are not far from descending into decay and rot.  I haven't walked a labyrinth that has such explicit reminders of mortality, but it seemed appropriate.

As I walked amidst the pumpkins, I thought about the wonderful diversity in the pumpkin world, and the wonderful diversity in other populations.  I thought about how a pumpkin looks like a head. 

I thought about the role of pumpkins in our culture, how strange our ancestors would find it that we take a gourd that takes so long to grow and carve faces into it.  They'd probably see it as a terrible waste of a nutritious food. 

I thought about the wonderful holiday special, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  I thought about the sincere pumpkin patch we've created on the front lawn of the church.

Our front lawn is on a very busy corner, 72nd Avenue and Pines Blvd., with the south campus of Broward College across the street.  One night, a drunk driver plowed into our pumpkin patch.  Thankfully, it was very late and no one was shopping for pumpkins.  Some of us still have nightmares about how it could have been much more terrible.

As I walked, the sun was beginning to get high enough that we could all see it.  Soon the air would turn hot again, but I still had a few minutes to enjoy the slightly cooler air.  Part of me wanted to sit on a pumpkin and ponder, but I liked the act of walking to each pumpkin pile and paying a mental tribute.  I liked the serenity that came to my brain from walking slowly and with purpose through the pumpkins.

Soon it was time to go to spin class and to use physicality in a different way.  Both experiences left me with a sense of calm.  But the pumpkin patch left me with a sense of awe.

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