I remember four times in my life I’ve walked a labyrinth. I always imagine that people find this activity soothing and relaxing, but I find it uncomfortable (though in the best possible way.)
A few months ago, I attended a twilight church service at the Labyrinth at St. James Episcopal Church. It was lovely, and I was in the center of a group of people walking. You would think that this would be comforting. After all, my only task was to follow the person in front of me, right? The entire time I was walking, I second-guessed myself. Was I too close to the person in front of me? Was I stepping outside the lines? Should I speed up? When would we exit? What if I got off my path? It was ridiculous, and I recognized that at the time. Still, I couldn’t stop my over-active mind from pursuing that nonsensical chain of thought.
Fast-forward to Lent this year, when my beloved church The Chapel of the Cross set up a temporary labyrinth in our Parish Hall. This time, I was walking by myself, so there was no one to follow. There was no to see if I crossed a line or got off track. Still, my own ego clawed its way to the surface. This time, I was trying to predict the path. Labyrinths are tricky, because one moment you’re headed straight toward the center and it seems you are almost done. Then suddenly, the path veers and you find yourself on the outermost edge of the design. Then, just as it seems you are no where near finished, you make a turn and are suddenly at the center.
I had nowhere to be that evening. There was no hurry, and there were no rules. But I wanted to know where I was along the path. I wanted to know if I was almost done or just beginning. I wanted to be able to pin down how long the process would take. Even once I reached the center and began my trek to exit, I had to resist the urge to check my watch and start calculating, “Oh, it took me 15 minutes on the way in, so I should be done in fifteen more minutes…”
I get it. Life’s about the journey not the destination. Yes, I see myself making futile attempts to establish similar control over the circumstances of my life. Am I doing the right things? Have I accomplished enough in my life so far? Should I be prioritizing differently? Will I look back on this time and have regrets?
The irony of my internal struggle and its parallels to my labyrinth experiences aren’t lost on me. Yet, recognizing my illogical humanity doesn’t make the struggle go away. I would love to say that I rose above the impulse and allowed myself to be in the moment, but I didn’t. Yes, it became a little easier, but the emotions were still there.
On this Easter, I remind myself of Jesus’ humanity. Even with his Godly perspective, he put himself in our shoes so many years ago. As he walked the Earth, he wasn’t always comfortable with the circumstances. How tired and sad must he have been during the days preceding his death. Knowing the outcome wouldn’t have made it any easier. In fact, perhaps that made it even harder.
If I learned anything from these recent walks of faith, it’s that Jesus forgives me. When I get embroiled in the minutia of my life, I believe he understands. And even when I fail at my attempts to “carpe diem” and enjoy the ride, I’m still moving along the path.
Perhaps Enya said it best in her song “Evening Falls”…
As I walk the room there before me a shadow
From another world, where no other can follow
Carry me to my own, to where I can cross over
Close to home – I cannot say
Close to home feeling so far away
Read more: Enya – Evening Falls… Lyrics | MetroLyrics