6th Annnual Photo Alphabet – Invitation to Labyrinth

I is for Invitation

Central Park, New York City

Invitation to Sit a Spell © 2013 Bo Mackison

When I see a bench in a garden, it’s an invitation for me to slow down and sit for a while.

“Dawdling” my grandfather would have said, but gardens are meant for strolling, sauntering, absorbing, meditating, observing. I always think a garden bench is the fine invitation to stop and sit a spell.


J is for Journeys.

Pictograh by Native American Artist, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center

Journey Life Map 2013 Bo Mackison

On my cross-country trip last May, I stopped at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska.

The ranger spoke extensively of this replica pictograph created the Lakota Sioux. A single drawing, the most significant of happenings, would summarize a year or a decade or even a hundred years. Over time the Lakota told their story in a spiral of tiny drawings.

Their journey begins with a simple drawing, representing the creation of the world.

Next is a drawing of a mastodon, then the animal’s fossilized bones. Hundreds of drawings make up the pictograph, drawn on animal skin. It is a pictorial map of their history.

Wouldn’t it be an impressive project to capture memories passed down from our ancestors, add our own, and create a spiral map like this.

It would be an illustrated, spiraling journey of a family.


K is for Kettle.

Marigold Teapot

Kettle © 2012 Bo Mackison

There are times when nothing will do except to put the kettle on and brew a pot of tea.

If I’m in the mood for to settle into a good book, or write a few letters, or perhaps I just want to sit and daydream, a cup of tea is always a welcome addition. And the brewing of the tea itself is one of the best mindfulness practices I know.

A slow practice, a sacred ritual.


L is for Labyrinth.

Turns on a Labyrinth

Labyrinth © 2013 Bo Mackison

I am a seeker of labyrinths.

I walked a labyrinth on the edge of the Sonoran Desert in early spring. What an extraordinary experience, connecting with the rhythm of the labyrinth pattern. Now I seek other labyrinths to walk. I journal after walking the labyrinth, and then I work my journal writing into poetry. Here is one from earlier this year:

Labyrinth, A Journey

I walk in circles, around and back, around and forth.

There is beginning, middle, end.

Guided by lines of crooked rocks,
an invisible hand on my shoulder,
encourages me, presses me onward.

Take a step,
One more turn,
Approach the center.

And there I stand immobile, my breath fragmented.

The labyrinth’s center, a large pock-marked rock
resting place for mementos and memento mori
small rocks, rings and bracelets, dog tags, holy cards.

Center – the farthest distance from beginning or end.

I move on.
But no longer do I walk a meditative pace.

I am anxious to leave,
ready to bolt, yet
I do not disregard the worn path
the labyrinth’s unspoken boundary.

I stumble to its exit, blinded, my feet guided by the rocky lines,
expelled from its sacred interior
into the other world. My world.

A ghost keeps vigil, its eyes the eyes of the cactus wren
perched on the spire of a tree cholla.
Its whisper, low and moaning, travels the arroyo
carried on swirling winds.


Want to read Part II? Here it is — Elephants to Highways

Coming tomorrow, Part IV :  Metaphors to Place

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Delightful. Insightful. Mesmerizing. The story of the Lakota people’s story in a spiral of tiny paintings was captivating. The labyrinth caught my complete attention as your personal tale wrapped in poetry wove its way into my psyche. “…the eyes of the cactus wren…” Indeed. Gardens and kettles. Sigh. Loved this post, Bo.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Debi, you are a wonder! Yes, isn’t the spiral story of the Lakota people inspiring. I’d love to do something, on a smaller scale, with my family. And the labyrinths — oh, yes. I love walking labyrinths, special places, rather a thin space…

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