Last week, I shared about how my natural linear thinking impacts my ability to walk life’s journey:
Instead of taking just that next step, trusting that the way has been laid out before me with precision and care to lead me in the way I should go–instead of walking in the wise way, I walk in the worried way.
When I sense that I have strayed from the wise way of walking, I find myself drawn to the labyrinth. At these moments, the labyrinth becomes–for me–chiefly an embodied prayer. The metaphor is clothed in tangible reality. I take actual, physical steps with my flesh-and-blood feet along a real-life path. I breathe slowly and deeply. I slow my pace to match my breath. Breathe. Step. Breathe. Step.
As I walk, I allow myself to notice what comes up on my journey toward the center, be gently present with whatever arises–without judgment or solutions or analysis–as I rest in the center, and finally choose to release it into God’s hands on the journey back out.
Embrace the Nonlinear Journey
As I walk the labyrinth, I gradually realize again and again that the invitation of the labyrinth is to embrace the nonlinear journey: full of twists and turns and doubling back, circling right back to the starting point–but not quite. Although I feel like I’m back in the same place again, I’m actually still moving forward along the same path, the only path, the only way to the center–where the presence of God is waiting to reveal just a little more of the true self.
Time and again I surprise myself that I still walk with the expectation that my destination is the center. The center itself is not the goal, not the destination, not the end point. In the labyrinth walk, the center is only the midpoint. A pause along the journey, a moment of rest, a breath.
Then begins the journey outward, walking the path again, placing footsteps upon footsteps, back and back again to where I started. Back to the beginning–back in the world, crossing the threshold once more into the space of ordinary walk.
Except this time, I’m changed in some way. This time I carry with me all the steps I’ve taken along the twisting way, all the breaths I’ve breathed, all the precious moments in the center and along the path of my intentional walk.
The Beauty of the Labyrinth
The beauty of the labyrinth practice, for me, is that its wandering, meandering, nonlinear path toward and then away from the center constantly draws me back to grace and invites me to make room for compassion with each step, each breath.
Walking with compassion means allowing myself to be in a place I’m disappointed about, to accept myself as I am and where I am in this moment, to stop trying to be where I’m not. Walking with compassion means releasing control and choosing to stop striving so there is space again for grace.
Even if I find I am short on grace for myself in these moments, the labyrinth invites me to choose to trust that the grace God is always extending toward me is sufficient.
So my prayer for all of us, fellow pilgrims, is that we might breathe, step, and walk this journey with compassion toward ourselves and with the intention to create space in ourselves to receive and rest in God’s grace–always sufficient, always more than enough.