I invited Sherry to join me and we set off in Made’s car. We were fortunate to have a Tabanan-born driver who knew short cuts and back roads better than most, and who (though in the midst of a spiritual fast!) navigated his way through some pretty rocky ‘n roller-coaster-like roads – which might have been maddening had it not afforded us a more scenic and rice-paddy-filled route to the retreat than I’d ever taken before.
We arrived mid-morning to find the workers, normally busy laying concrete, putting up wires or laboring in the garden, instead digging up (or were they fixing?) the road into Mongan. Like a chain gang. It was an odd sight.
We parked and toured the retreat. I pointed out the meditation tent, banana trees, the medicinal garden, the family temple, and vast vegetable garden that Agung’s been tending to so adeptly. Made, the country boy that he still is at heart, enlightened us with explanations about uses for many herbs and leaves we passed on the way; some of which I’d never heard of or learned about before.
But when we arrived at the labyrinth, now partly covered with black netting strung between bamboo poles, I simply felt grateful; for the abundance of grass re-growing, the tender care with which Agung and his crew had evidently worked to feed, to seed, to weed and renew the terrace.
I appreciated that the cat’s whiskers were growing out of control, even partially blocking entry to the first circuit. The weeds were few and far between, though the ants raged still. The painted stones (not of my choice or doing) were tucked into the ground along the borders, more closely spaced – and looking more out of place – than I’d remembered from before.
Then, as I was walking out, it felt as if a slight breeze whooshed by me and with it, two words settled squarely on my shoulders: Say goodbye.
I touched the wispy cat’s whisker that swayed in front of me, walked out and turned around. Sherry was still finishing her slow journey outwards. I thanked her for joining me in the labyrinth. Then we walked on.
And just like that, I sensed that the time had come to bid adieu. I’d done that which I’d hoped to do. the labyrinth had given me, taught me, led me in ways I’d not expected. There was SO much to be grateful for. Whether or not I would return, time would tell…