Over the course of more than one year, I designed and created a labyrinth at the site of an ancient spiritual temple in the village of Penatahan (Tabanan), on the island of Bali (Indonesia). Throughout the duration of the installation, the site was under construction. It was a work-in-progress, slated to become the Bali Silent Retreat.
As the labyrinth slowly came to life, Javanese workers labored alongside me. They carted heavy materials, sawed and hammered away, from dawn to early evening. The all-natural labyrinth was comprised of grass and rock, with herbs and flowers planted along its periphery.
This project, like many others that I’ve spearheaded over the years, required the insight, input and hands-on contributions of many people: Gardeners, visitors from abroad, interns, locals, their kids and other volunteers all helped out in one way or another; carrying and laying stones, pulling weeds, cutting plants, watering grass, removing detritus, mitigating natural disasters and generally, keeping watch – and faith.
Every project laid into a natural landscape has its own rhythm and pattern of growth, responding to nature’s ways, change of temperature, and other unpredictable factors. Like the vagaries of life, the labyrinth too is an organism that ebbs and flows in sometimes unexpected ways. In this regard, the Bali Silent Retreat labyrinth was no exception.
The cycle of life continues to manifest on the labyrinth, where visitors are welcomed into its embrace.
A Penatahan Labyrinth Prayer
In sun, cloud, wind or rain
May all who enter this labyrinth
To walk in joy or sadness
To move, sway, tiptoe or stroll
To meditate in silence
To reflect, pray or seek guidance
From the almighty presence of Mt. Agung
Enter in peace and tranquility
Bring hopes and dreams
Embrace sights, sounds and spirit
Feel the earth’s energy underfoot
Welcome nature’s gifts
Find solace and gratitude
Arising from deep within the soul
At Bali Silent Retreat, we try to pour love and divine energy into our environment, our creations and activities; food, gardening, yoga, silence and meditation. From the outset, we intended to incorporate a garden labyrinth into our site design. Thanks to the vision and persistence of one of our earliest supporters, Amit Janco – a writer and photographer who dreamed of creating her first labyrinth (and the first one on the island of Bali) – and with the invaluable assistance of staff and volunteers, our labyrinth was in place long before our facilities were completed. We feel blessed to have the labyrinth on-site; and we’re grateful to Amit for bringing it to fruition with such dedication and attention to detail. We think our labyrinth’s ‘magic’ has grown from the love and commitment that accompanied its installation. ~Patricia M., Bali, Indonesia
The labyrinth was a tool for so much reflection on my life. ~ Xavier, China (French-born)
Walking the labyrinth after the full moon ceremony took me to a place of truth which I hope remains with me always. A truly magical awakening! ~ Jean, USA