The other morning,I ran into my boss the headmaster. We were both walking our dogs near the labyrinth, and I was doing my morning devotions and exercises (I do a yoga routine now in the mornings).
He asked me about it: what it did, how it worked. As I explained, though, it became clear that a number of stones — the largest ones and the ones that actually make it function as a sunwheel — had been taken. There were holes instead of rocks.
In some ways I was looking at the labyrinth as a legacy to the school. A few faculty, some interested neighbors, a fair number of students all have had lessons in how to read it.
But in truth they don’t really care.
It’s nowhere near as high on their list of priorities as it was on mine when I built it. I thought it was going to be this great teaching tool, one that would last long after I was gone.
The Halloween stone, and one of the Summer Solstice stones, are gone from the sunrise side. All the sunset stones are gone. And there are empty places in the perimeter ring too.
And the keystone, the marker at the center.
Curiously, I’m not heart-broken. I thought I would be. I’ve come almost every day to check, to ensure that “my” stones weren’t taken. Yet inexorably they have been, and the structure is becoming more mysterious and inscrutable with every passing day.
Maybe it’s a metaphor for teaching. We the teachers create powerful structures and systems for explaining the world. Our students carry away nuggets and gleanings of that learning, until they leave the system behind.
Or maybe not.
When I leave, the labyrinth will be broken. Not by any act of mine, exactly. Yet without a keeper, a maintainer, the big stones will go. The knowledge isn’t in the stones.
It’s in me.
The builder. The teacher.