Yesterday I participated in a Labyrinth walk. If you’ve never heard of one, don’t worry about it. Neither had until 2 weeks ago. My grad course on Spiritual practices included an introduction to this medieval practice and the retreat center/mission where my class takes place has an actual labyrinth emblazoned on a very large canvas.
It’s used for contemplative walking. You just slowly follow the maze like pattern and open yourself up to whatever God wants to share with you as you sojourn around the floor.
I was, I must admit, skeptical. I didn’t share my lack of enthusiasm or lack of understanding of how this could work with my classmates or our professor. I just sort of took a ‘wait and see’ approach. I try to have an open mind, but to paraphrase my man, G.K. Chesterton, not so open that my brains fall out! But, you never know. I like to say that God is always communicating with us, but we’re often not paying attention.
So this walk around the labyrinth gave me the chance to commune with God and I did so. Our professor played some lovely, calming instrumental music which helped me immensely. I always focus better with music playing.
And then I commenced my slow, even plodding stroll around the labyrinth. I almost immediately was struck by a thought that I liked and that made me smile. The last time I walked so slowly and awkwardly up a single path like this was on my and Sean’s wedding day! And that was truly awkward, too, since I hated everyone in the church staring at me (and my dad, but hey, I was the bride, so most likely me!).
And then I thought about how that day happened 35 1/2 years ago next month. It seems to have ‘taken.’ How cool is that? So that led me to ponder other things in my life that took a long time but had a great ‘pay off.’ That prompted me to recall delivering my kids! That took a long time, too! Not years, but it seemed like years at the time! Especially the first one! And both were painful. And yet, once again, the end result were two beautiful human beings – to this day! In fact, they are the gifts that keep on giving! Now married, I get to love their spouses, too! And we have 3 adorable grandchildren and are looking forward to more, hopefully! So, yes, another long and uncomfortable event in my life that ended in bliss!
So then my mind jumped to the next level of existence in general. The center of the labyrinth is a beautiful, large ‘white space.’ It could represent eternity. And, in that respect, for me as a Christ follower, that eternity means Heaven. So, our life, though not long compared to eternal realities, can be a long row to hoe, full of lots of highs and lows (discomfort, suffering, joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, even the mundane, prayers of every kind). But then there is the ultimate ‘big finish’ that isn’t the end at all, but the beginning of life in eternity, in heaven, with our God!
Turns out this labyrinth, for me, is analogous to a person’s life. Huh. It was a lovely experience and I was so surprised! I liked it and I was so relaxed by the end that I almost fell asleep. Just like a child with no worries, just contentment and, as the aging adult that I actually am, full of gratitude.
Another moment that occurred during that walk was the physical experience I had while viewing this design on the floor so intently for about 20 minutes. At the center of the labyrinth, it suddenly seemed like I was gazing at the top of a domed ceiling. And I was looking into the heavens to infinity! A feeling very similar to the sensation I have when looking up at the stars at night overcame me for just a few seconds, but real nonetheless. The center of the labyrinth became 3 dimensional before my eyes. I think that was an optical illusion, but maybe it was a gift. You know those stars we see at night? They are millions of miles away. The light we’re seeing takes years to reach our eyes.
I ended up really enjoying so much about my time of contemplation on the labyrinth. I thought about life – and how so many good things take time.