labyrinth-1. an intricate structure of interconnecting
passages through which it is difficult to find one’s way;
a maze. 2. something highly intricate or convoluted in
character, composition, or construction. that’s what the
american heritage college dictionary has to say.
recently i went on my first outside labyrinth walk. before you mistake me for someone super spiritual, let me set the record straight. the reason i participated in this event was purely self serving. i went to spend quality time with my friends from the refuge, not to gain a closer connection with God. but, as He usually does, He intersected with me right where i was. a labyrinth differs from a maze in one important aspect. there are no dead ends in the labyrinth. the path will always lead toward the center or away from the center, but never into a dead end. even if you decide to step over the boundaries to get to a different section of the path, you are either going forward, toward the goal, or away from it.
as i embarked on this spiritual activity i was impressed by the parallel between the labyrinth and the journey of life. vibrant shrubs were the first things that caught my eye. they surrounded the outer edge. many were quite full and healthy. some, though, had weeds growing in them and looked sickly. others had “things” growing out of them that looked kinda like weeds, but also looked like they might be new growth. ugly, lifeless weeds were growing in the cracks between the flagstone of the path. God seemed to impress on me how the beautiful bushes and the ugly weeds could occupy the same space but be completely opposite each other. while some were thriving, others were just existing and others were dying. and the vibrant shrubs could be compromised when entangled with the weeds. and you know i can never be sure what the “things” were–just like i can never know if people are full of life or death. and maybe it doesn’t matter, anyway. maybe it’s His business and their business, but not mine. “things” can be different from me, but still be alright.
between the bushes were solar powered lights, there, i suppose, to shed some light on the darkness. not a single one was standing straight, like i imagine they were when they were placed in the garden. they were all bent over, in varying degrees, from the elements and storms of life. but they still worked. still gave off light. that is all but one. it’s base had become detached from the solar panel. although the sun shown equally on all the lamps, this broken one received no power. interesting to me was the fact that the creator of the labyrinth had decided to not discard this broken vessel. instead it remained, waiting for the day he could fix it and make it whole again.
i noticed many various rocks on my journey. some small. some big. there were many different colors. some were prettier than others. some weathered. some covered in mud. a few were whole and smooth, but most were broken and jagged. a lot like the people in my life. each different, but all with a certain beauty. life has made each who he/she is today. each with a special story. none the same. each unique.
a few groups of bike riders ventured by. some seemed oblivious to the path of life i was on. others looked with disdain in a dismissive way, like they were somehow judging my journey. similar, i’m sure, to the way i have judged theirs. memories flooded my mind. back to the time my wife and i experienced life giving spiritual renewal as we rode our mountain bikes with our kids, exploring God’s beauty in nature and connecting in a mystical way with His glory. that was my path then. it might be their path now. who am i to judge. all of our paths are different, because they are our paths now.
this labyrinth was constructed in a manner that gave the illusion that you were getting farther away from the center, when in reality you were right on course. a lot like life, me thinks. many times it felt like i was going in the wrong direction and i had to fight the urge to carve out a new path for myself. sometimes my friends and i were going in opposite directions. other times we were going the same way. on occasion, we were going side by side for the briefest of moments. at times the trail seemed to be too long. i wanted to quit. but stopping didn’t change the fact that i was still on a journey. i had to keep moving. the only choice was go forward or going backward. so i trudged along. the one who went before me, encouraged me that i was, in fact going in the right direction. even when the road seemed bumpy and uneven. there were a few times i could see a ways down this path, but for the most part i could not see more than a few feet in front of me.
yes the labyrinth, like life, must be traveled one step at a time. one day at a time. trusting that the Creator designed it in such a way that i will reach my goal, actually His goal, if i continue to keep moving. putting one foot in front of the next, taking the best next step.
the refuge hosts a monthly labyrinth walk around denver/boulder. our next one is sunday, september 26th at northglenn church of christ. details here