My Labyrinth Walk

Tonight I walked a labyrinth.

I first learned about labyrinths in seminary, and have wanted to walk one for years, and yet somehow I never have.

Tonight our pastor explained that some people like to view the labyrinth journey as one towards self-awareness, towards an inner understanding and union with God within. The journey towards the center can be viewed as a walk of petition, seeking guidance and accompaniment from God. The journey outward can be a walk of praise and thanksgiving, celebrating God’s presence in your life.

So I started in, full of expectation and hope for the spiritual awareness that was surely to arise deep within me…. and nothing happened. Step by step I trod, waiting expectantly for the awareness of the Spirit, for some divine revelation, for some knowledge of what I was going to get out of this experience. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I felt crowded. My personal space was invaded by quite a few women like me who also wanted to walk the labyrinth, meaning that through the twists and turns we were often turning sideways to avoid collisions, breathing in each other’s perfume, staring at each other’s bare feet.

Sometimes I don’t like people very much, which is quite ironic for a pastor. I’m an introvert. I often view spiritual activities as solitary activities. I wanted very much to find peaceful union and contemplation with God on my own on my labyrinth journey, and yet here were all these other people, walking and breathing and thinking and existing around me. It was very distracting.

So I started praying. God, help me discover what you want me to find. I focused on repeating the prayer a few times. A few steps later, a clear answer resonated within me. Seek me. Seek me. Seek me. With each step, I felt thus instructed.

So I started seeking. And suddenly, the Spirit was there. I could feel God in the soles of my feet as I strode across the canvas of the transportable labyrinth. I could sense God in the pleasant smell of the oil diffuser placed delicately out of the way. I could feel God in the gentle rhythm of my bones with each step I took. My body became aware of God’s presence, but my mind was still rejecting the bodies of the women around me.

Seek me. Seek me. Seek me.

I kept walking.

I don’t know how it happened, but by the time I was about to enter the center of the labyrinth, a realization hit me with heart-sinking shame: the bodies around me were not distractions from God. The bodies around me were God. God incarnate, the imago dei, all around me. It was as if Jesus himself suddenly appeared to me on my way to Emmaus, and I was shocked to learn he had been there all the while. And I had vainly and selfishly tried to push him away.

My sisters and I gathered in the center, forming a wordless circle, breathing in union, existing with God together.

And on the journey out, as I began walking, I felt a clear resonating mantra: The ground of your being is found on the journey.

I didn’t even know I was seeking the ground of my being. But I felt such immense relief in knowing where to find it.

You see, I’ve been feeling rootless lately. I’ve been in discernment regarding my call to ministry, and I’ve had trouble seeing a clear picture of the future. I’ve been reaching and yearning for a certainty, an end point, something I can look at and cling to and say, “This is my purpose in the world.” So God’s response on that labyrinthine journey was to tell me to look around at God’s glory in the present moment, to let tomorrow take care of itself, and to remember I do not walk alone.

May it ever be so.

Amen.

 

The Wish

Your wish has been granted.

Of course, you don’t know that your wish has been granted because that was the condition of the wish. You got your wish but you don’t get to know you got your wish.

This is because your wish has not been wished for yet.

Let me explain. You were old. You were coming to the end of your life. And you had many regrets. So many things you would have done differently, if only you had known. You were full of so much remorse.

In 2014, you had so many chances to take a stand. You could have lifted your voice against violence and oppression against women. Or you could have rallied and marched for economic justice. Or you could have said no to the death penalty by making calls and writing letters. Or you could have worked for marriage equality, challenging and defeating the exclusivist wrongs of your beloved Church.

So many causes that now seem like the stuff of legend. Your children and their children and their children read about the history you lived like you once read about slavery, Vietnam, and the Civil Rights Movement.

You wish you could tell them you were a part of it. You wish you had made history.

But you didn’t. You stayed quiet. You followed the rules of the oppressor. You kept your nose clean.

Did you know what was happening? Maybe. Maybe not.

Now, everyone looks back on that time and thinks of those who did not act, “How could they not have known? How could they not have done something?”

And today you realized you have failed. You have failed to be obedient to God. You have failed to be the model you wanted your children to follow. You have said nothing, done nothing. You didn’t know it then, but those issues were reshaping your world. Maybe you were scared. Maybe you were just apathetic, or too concerned with your own private sphere of consumption to notice the changes the bravest men and women were ushering in with the dawning of the age of peace.

And now you are so damn old. Too damn old to do anything about your shame.

But I’m here to tell you that your wish has been granted! My sole purpose is to let you know that you have been given a second chance! It is the spring 2014 and you are here. You are challenged by your wish granter to be bolder and braver than the last time. You have been given the opportunity to live your life for justice and peace, so that you may tell your children and their children the stories that make the legends that fill us all with hope that things might one day be better.

Your wish has been granted.

Will you take advantage of it?