“That must be it.”
Wreathed in painted ivy, the sign read, “Cloudberry Hill Maze Garden. One Mile.”
I had been wanting to wander through a hedged labyrinth for a long time. It hadn’t been difficult to convince Dave, but I had been a little shy about suggesting it, maybe because I thought he’d think it was a rather pointless pursuit.
We bought tickets from a liveried attendant and received a glossy brochure. Holding hands, we entered the maze between tall spiraling topiaries.
“Quite the work of art,” Dave observed.
We went to the right, and I remembered reading that a certain percentage of labyrinths spiraled counterclockwise. The yews and boxwoods were luxuriant and dense, and I brushed my hand against the thick foliage. Not a leaf was out of place; every twig was precision cut.
“Imagine the power tools needed to keep this in shape,” I exclaimed.
“Look, it says here that mazes provided perfect opportunities for secret dalliances. Let’s say we have a little dalliance.” Dave winked.
Somewhere in the maze a child’s laughter rang out, and Dave leaned over and gave me a warm embrace and a kiss.
“That’ll have to keep you. I think it’s too crowded for a dalliance.”
Round and round, back and forth we went, following the twists and turns of the garden maze. Every time we thought we were near the entrance, the labyrinth took a sharp reversal or terminated in a green wall. It wasn’t as though we were trying to extricate ourselves from the convoluted greenery, though, as wandering was the point of our venture. Occasionally, we made room for a family to pass or moved around a couple not so hesitant about having an affectionate moment.
Eventually, we came to a “Y” in the passage.
“What do you think? Right or left?” I asked.
“Both. Let’s each take a path. Maybe I’ll find my way out. I’m getting a little tired.”
I looked into Dave’s peaked face. Why hadn’t I noticed he was flagging?
“I’ll come with you.”
“No, you stay and enjoy the maze. Please.” Dave’s sweet coaxing was adamant. I didn’t want to leave him, but I relented to the persistent plea in his eyes. We hugged, and reluctantly, I took the right hand path while he disappeared down the other trail.
Once again, reality had followed us like a faithful dog. Dave’s worsening health issue was an ever-increasing weight in our life, bearing down in cycles of anguish and turmoil, holding us in its tightening grip of uncertainty and bewilderment.
Rather like this maze, I mused.
Meandering through the verdant tunnels, I considered the recent windings that our life had taken, the long vigils at hospitals, waiting for results and relief. I came to a switchback in the maze and thought how often there’d been no answers, and we’d had to start Dave’s testings all over again.
An amorous couple was seated on a bench, lost in each other, and I remembered our early years, when we thought we were immortal and would love forever. Now the loving and the living was being tried.
The path began to make quarter rounds, back and forth, and then abruptly came to a dead end. For a moment, ire rose in me, and I wanted to climb the hedge, avoid the labyrinth altogether, find Dave and go home. Denial. Instead, I leaned against the springy wall, felt it take my weight, and wished it would absorb me, let me disappear. Tears of frustration welled up as I began to follow the path back in ever widening circles, this time taking a different turn.
All at once, I was in the very heart of the garden.
A pool reflected the azure sky, and I sat down on the stone rim. I trailed my fingers across the water, causing ripplets to lap softly over the surface.
High above, a bird sang...
My thoughts are higher than your thoughts...
With sudden clarity, I realized that from His point of view, God does not see a puzzlement or a crooked way. In Him, there is neither confusion nor convolution. Tears splashed into the pool.
I journeyed to the exit without walking into any dead ends, without hitting a switchback or a forked trail. Dave was sitting on a bench in the sun, his eyes closed, gently snoring. I leaned over and gave him a kiss.
“Are you up for a dalliance?”
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