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Traveling to the family

Author: Susan Murphy
Date of Trip: October 2012



When a good portion of my time and money was spent visiting my parents or siblings I didn’t feel I had a vacation. I would return home resentful because I never went to a new place, there was always work that I was expected to do, and I never met new people. Then in 2009 I did a conference before my visit and realized this removed the drudgery. This year I deliberately added a conference at the end with the result that the visit became a proper vacation.

The lingering memory of an adventure was a good way or me to return to the world. The conference was in a different city, one I had never been to, so I could explore. It had the potential to meet new friends and to learn about something that speaks to my spirit. In 2009 I had the chance to visit San Francisco but this year it was the speakers that hooked me.

I choose the Labyrinth Gathering in Hudson, Wisconsin. A labyrinth can be used as a tool for meditation. I started to walk this path in 2000 and found I felt connected to my unconscious self. They are used in hospitals, jails, as art, in the garden. In medieval times it was dangerous to make the journey to Jerusalem so the labyrinth was used as a substitute.

The theme for the conference was Timeless Flow – Reflections and Currents in the Labyrinth. There were three speakers and topics that I wanted to hear. First was an expert whose books and travels around the globe are so comprehensive, next the woman responsible for peppering planet earth with labyrinths would speak about the Spiritual but not Religious Movement. The last speaker’s topic was on using the labyrinth in places of extreme suffering like Cambodia and the Congo.

When the plane landed in Winnipeg it was snowing. I was wearing sandals because my relationship to winter is one of denial and I expect October to be mild. I made it to Brandon where my brother met my shuttle bus and took me to my father’s home. Now another thing about visiting family is try to do something useful that could create a good memory.

For me the useful thing was making a meal. I suppose it’s because there must be a thousand stories about the meals I made as I was growing up. I guess I feel I have to give each generation of nieces and nephews their own story. My father hates to cook and since my mother died my sister and I always try to introduce easy recipes or gadgets. One night I made a lazy man’s shepherd pie in his slow cooker. I put in hamburger, peas, mixed vegetables and onions. I mashed the potatoes separately so they could be added last. My sister-in-law was away so I invited my brother and his children. The meal was a success, especially with my brother and nephew. Everything was finished – good memory.

The rest of my vacation was dealing with the rain, finding coats and sweaters that I could borrow from my siblings and making friends with the little ones. I find if wake up in their homes they come to the conclusion that I’m one of the family. This year three year old Hayden saw me go to sleep in grandma’s home and in the morning he gave me hugs – good memory.

Now to my adventure!

Another brother returned me to Winnipeg airport for my 8:00 am flight to Denver. Everything was perfect until the announcement 10 minutes before boarding – this flight is not going anywhere for at least 7 hours. The rest was mumbled so I followed the other passengers back through customs, picking up our baggage and standing in front of three check-ins managed by two staff. I was grateful I took carry on and was at the front of the line but still in one hour only four people moved. I saw my whole adventure costing a fortune. I thought I would miss all my shuttles and be stuck in airports. Just before it was my turn this flicker of hope started saying my final destination is Minneapolis and Delta Airline is beside us. Could this actually work for me? It happened! I was standing in front of an agent who said we should be able to get you on a direct flight to Minneapolis. He did! They paid the difference in price and bought me breakfast. When the universe hands me that kind of luck, when it takes me from despair to joy it just fills my whole being with gratitude.

The rest of the trip followed the same spirit. I met old friends from the 2009 gathering and the original lady from my first labyrinth walk. I spent time with an author I had previously met only as speaker. That was such a plus for me as I never dreamt I would be put in a situation where we could shop, go for supper and I would have the chance to talk about her book and my ideas. The speakers I came for were all very good. I learned about a future event that will take place on a turf labyrinth in Saffron-Walden. The movement from Religion to Spiritual confirmed what I believed and was humorous. The woman who presented on using the labyrinth in places of extreme suffering both moved me to tears and gave me hope. She had such a grasp on suffering yet her approach was so practical.

When I returned to Toronto I heard from the author, I made contact with one of the presenters and my previous 2009 Portland roommate is coming to Toronto. Not only was I rejuvenated, but I started looking forward to future vacations with the family.

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