On Labyrinths

This has been a week of spiritual firsts. I finally attended a local Episcopal church and it was lovely. I also finally visited a labyrinth. There’s a lovely spirituality and ecology center nearby run by Dominican Sisters. It’s a beautiful area with over 100 acres of trails, gardens, and animals. I’ve been wanting to visit a labyrinth for years ever since a friend of mine mentioned what a profound spiritual impact it had on her. For those unfamiliar with the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth, it’s an ancient practice, thousands of years old. It is meant to replicate the journey to Jerusalem for those unable to take the spiritual pilgrimage. The labyrinth I walked was modeled off of the labyrinth on the floor at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France. There is one way in and one way out. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it was worth every minute.

What I love about the labyrinth is how it is a beautiful metaphor of our walk with Christ. There are times when you wind very close to the heart of the path and other times when you are far on the outside edges. However, no matter how close you are to the center you are still moving towards Him. You can’t tell how close you are to the beginning or end, all you know is that you are moving closer to where you need to be. Additionally. because this was a natural labyrinth, there were some extra challenges. It was hot and sticky, there were bugs, and I am moderately allergic to grass. Even with all these inconveniences, it was beautiful. There was a monarch butterfly, daisies, dragonflies, and the absolute beauty of nature. It was such a soothing and centering experience. I think we often have anxiety about our walk with God. I don’t feel close to Him right now. I don’t know where my faith is going. I feel like I’m not growing quickly enough. On the labyrinth, though, all those things don’t matter anymore. Your progress on the path is not determined by your current closeness to the center, only that you are constantly moving closer to Him. Your pace is not to be measured against any standard, as long as you are moving as He leads you.

It was also really helpful to walk the path with a friend. We moved at different paces and at times were very close to each other and at other times on the opposite sides of the labyrinth. It really drove home the point that you simply cannot compare your faith to someone else’s. It is not something strictly quantifiable or easily measured. While one person might appear to be far away from God, in reality, they’re further in their walk than you are, and vice verse. The path we take to the Lord is our own and it is not right or wrong as long as we are constantly journeying closer to Christ.

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