Following the sunset, I went to the ocean to walk the path along the cliffs.
The half-moon had risen, the sun bid her farewell as he sank below the horizon.
I just missed it.
So it was in twilight that I headed along the familiar trail, and by twilight that another trail called.
I hesitated, but the happy stirring of soul urged me on. I huffed a sigh and almost begrudgingly followed.
I followed the path to this one, to that, unsure of where I was going, then came upon a labyrinth:
homemade, a narrow winding path tread into the dirt and lined with stones and shells and small trinkets.
How could this have been here all along, and I had never come to find it?
I begin at the beginning, marked by a large piece of wood.
A few steps in, I find my father’s name
painted on a rock.
I continue on, around and around, and then look around confused. I don’t seem to be making any progress in, but only back out. But how? There’s only one path! I’ve been around a labyrinth or two before.
I begin again only to find myself turned around and mixed up once more. I turn and trace my steps—I hesitate, I trace the path with my finger and my eyes, but no use. I consider cheating.
But what’s the point in that?
Exasperated, I quit the labyrinth and laughing at myself say aloud, “I need someone here with me, to help when I get turned around!”
So I walked back to the edge of the cliffs that trace the shore and sat for awhile, listening and writing down what I heard until the sounds of things stirring in the grass in the dark and my own imagination pluck me from my seat and usher me back the way I came.
I notice a figure in the distance and breathe relief that I am not out here in the wild at night alone.
(perhaps the mountain lions will reach them first—I grin an uncharitable grin).
They are moving quite slowly, seeming to wander back and forth and
“they’re on the labyrinth!” I laugh into the softly descending night. I hasten my pace.
“Hi there,” I call as I enter the clearing, “can I interrupt you a minute?” I already had, I know, but
either I had summoned her there, or she had summoned me.
“Sure.” She was a woman a little bent over, round-shouldered half-turning before continuing to pick her way forward with a walking stick.
“I was just here a little while ago. I kept getting confused and turned around, and I wished that I had someone to help me get oriented. And then I saw you here!”
“Ohh,” she gave a sort of chuckle. “Well, start over there at the log, and just follow it along. I actually came by last night but it was too dark. I told myself, no, no, come back tomorrow.”
“Well that’s lucky,” I quip. As I proceed to the log, I see but only half-see a red rose I hadn’t seen before. I assume with half a mind that its artificial and I must have missed it the first time in.
I decide to take it slowly, this time, step by step.
You know, mindfully. With maturity.
“I’ve actually never seen this labyrinth here before,” I tell the woman. “I’ve been out on the trail a dozen times and this is the first time I’ve ever found it.”
She pauses a moment and looks over her shoulder. “Well, no one finds this place by accident. It calls people to it.”
I like that. I feel like a child invited into a magical adventure. And so I find it difficult to keep my eager pace as calm and measured as I know it should be.
Then I stop, and turn around again, confused. I’ve gone back out to the outer edge, and in my haste can’t see how it turns back in.
I’m lost. “This is what happened before,” I say. “I get partway in then get all confused and turned around.”
“Yeah, it does that,” she says, amused. “Just follow it along, trust it—trust the labyrinth,” she says, playfully, and I can hear the smile in her voice as her role in the fairy tale begins to unfold.
I don’t know which way to proceed, so I begin again at the beginning.
“My father’s name is on a stone right here,” I look down again as I pass. I read his name aloud.
“These are my father’s roses,” her statement punctuates mine.
I remember the rose. I look and see that roses are placed every so often, all the way around.
In twilight, I hadn’t noticed she held them.
They’re such deep red, like scattered drops of rich blood and each of them cut at the perfect moment of unfurling.
The blooming love that emanates from them is visceral, unmistakeable, unutterable.
They are not an ordinary rose.
“They’re beautiful,” I breathe, the truest truth I’d said all night, or maybe ever in my life. I walk a little more slowly now, a little more reverent, but my spirit is playful and here and there I pick up speed. I come upon her unexpectedly, face-to-face, once more confused about what to do. “Wait,” I say, “did I get mixed up again?”
“No,” she answers, “I’m on my way out, and you’re going in.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” I laugh a little at myself. We step around each other and I continue into the center, where she’s left a few more roses. I spend a little time there, giving her time to work her way around.
I kneel down and study them: they are heartbeat and passion, devotion and give and life so sacred.
This beauty is difficult to be still with, for long.
I don’t think I’d ever been in the embodied presence of love more clearly before.
I stand and turn and begin my outward walk. She’s finished and lingers a little, giving me details about the labyrinth’s history and good parking spots; how long the moon is high enough to give good light—suddenly unsure, it seems, as this story nears its conclusion. I thank her a few times over, too careless and shy to ask about her father, and we bid each other goodnight.

I’ll never need roses again. The End. (And she vows to live happily ever after).