Winding in the Right Direction
Today I want to tell you about a place. For those of you who might someday find yourselves in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area, head about thirty minutes east of town, if you get a chance, and check out the town of Whitby, Ontario. Look around, and you should be able to find a park, the Park of Reflection.
Go to it, and meander.
Great word, meander, “poking around,” derived from the name of a wandering river in modern-day Turkey. Greek in origin it is, like labyrinth, the maze that ancient myth said housed the monster in Crete, the place where the young people of Athens went to be devoured every seven years or so.
The Park of Reflection is a labyrinth built to honor those Canadian service members who have become ill or injured in the line of duty. It’s not one of those fun-house kind of mazes, like the ones carved out of American cornfields around Halloween to spook middle-schoolers. It is rather a complex pattern in the ground of curves and straightaways, meant not to be rushed through, but meditated through.
Fancy ideas for a veterans’ memorial park, some might say.
Yet labyrinths, no matter how exotic they may look, have a very simple story that can be told about them. The average person of the Middle Ages could not make pilgrimages to holy sites. By slowly, thoughtfully moving along the paths of labyrinths that were in some churches, these people could spiritually accomplish what was physically impossible.
That is what makes the park so interesting. By slowly making one’s way along the path of the labyrinth-maze, a visitor is challenged to, in a way, take time with War, time that Canadian service members had no choice but to give. There is no physical danger in doing so. Only a peace-filled invitation to reflection.
Sponsored by Wounded Warriors Canada, an organization that itself grew out of a need to bring some normalcy to the lives of wounded Canadian service members, the park tries to make the abnormality of War into something that, through the abnormality (at least these days) of quiet reflection, reminds all of us of the normal lives of normal men and women who made a commitment to their society and who must now make a new normal for themselves.
If meandering through the park means nothing more than wandering, then the word accomplishes little. Another “thank you for your service” with some nice benches and some pretty, big flowers here and there, that’s all.
Yet if, like its river namesake, meandering means winding one’s way around curves that are metaphors for the complex decisions made and lives lived by service members, then the park is a place worth visiting indeed.
Kudos to Wounded Warriors Canada
Even more, thanks to Canada’s wounded warriors.
Until tomorrow, be well,
To learn more about Wounded Warriors Canada