In the past year I became aware of an increasingly popular spiritual practice – walking the Labyrinth. At first I gained an intellectual understanding of what the labyrinth was. “We are all on the path … exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.” says this Lessons 4 Living website devoted to the labyrinth. I also read Kathleen McGowan’s excellent book “The Source Of Miracles – Seven Steps To Transforming Your Life Through The Lord’s Prayer” The Labyrinth, Ms. McGowan reveals in this book, holds the key for understanding the deeper meanings of the Lord’s Prayer.
An intellectual understanding of the labyrinth is all fine and good, but recently I got the chance to actually walk a labyrinth for the first time. This labyrinth was indoors, in a dark room surrounded by tables. Placed on each table were ten lit candles. At first I was intimidated. I had never liked mazes growing up, and this had the looks of some weird winding challenge. “What if I get dizzy, fall down, and knock over one of those tables?!” I thought. I could see the headlines, “Man Walking Labyrinth Causes Four Alarm Blaze!”
Much to my relief I was to learn that walking the labyrinth was not a maze. “Mazes are places where one gets lost,” Kathleen McGowan writes. “Labyrinths are places where one is found.” [1. The Source Of Miracles, Chapter 2. There are deeper meanings to the rose petals in the center of the labyrinth than what I discuss here - read Kathleen McGowan's book for more details.]
I tentatively started out on my labyrinth walk, looking straight down at the path. Unlike a maze, I discovered there were no choice points, no forks in the road, just a circular winding path. Keep walking, I thought, trust the path, and it will lead me to my destination – a rose like figure in the center of the labyrinth. I walked and walked, sometimes doubting if this path was going to lead anywhere, but I progressed. Finally I reached the rose in the center. “Whew! This really does work!” I thought. My journey from the inner rose, through the winding path, to the exit of the labyrinth was much easier. “I know this works – it got me to the center, so it’ll lead me out.” I said to myself.
As I exited the labyrinth and sat in a chair watching others do their sacred walk, it dawned on me what the deeper meaning of the labyrinth might be. The path analogous to my faith in the unconditional love of Spirit. As I walk the path of life I am uncertain at times where I am going or what a particular set of circumstances is leading to, but I press on, having faith there is a God and there is a purpose to my walk. There have been times of great joy, “ah ha” moments of enlightenment in my life, and those times are analogous to the center of the labyrinth, where I have a direct experience with the unconditional love of God. Having moments like this in my past allows me to be more trusting on my current walk, in what likely is my second half of life.
As I watched my fellow classmates walk on the canvas of the labyrinth figure I thought “God’s love is always with us, just like that canvas, we just don’t always sense it or feel it.”
The next time I walk the Labyrinth I’ll be ready. To meditate on my current’s life challenges, yet to know that I am supported by Love throughout my journey. And oh what a Love it is!
Image by dl_the_huntress