Surrounded by woods and down a slight hill from the road, I was immediately drawn to the labyrinth at a retreat center in North Carolina while celebrating New Year's there six years ago. Beckoned to its edge, I soon found myself journeying to the middle of the labyrinth all the while wondering what gift I would receive as I reached its center. But the center held no gift for me that day. Later on, after giving it some thought, I realized the gift was in the walking of the labyrinth, the contemplation one does while moving along its path.
Many times, I find myself approaching life the way I approached the labyrinth that day. I rush forward, wondering what I will receive after I complete a task, or once a holiday is upon me. Most of the time, I am let down when a gift doesn't materialize. Maybe my hard efforts go unrecognized or the good times I created don't last long enough. Even now with Christmas past, I find myself looking toward the next holiday or activity and wondering what I can do to make that time special. Rushing toward that place with excitement and wonder, giving little thought to the days preceding it. Life sometimes feels like little fits and starts, days to hurry through as we work toward those days to savor. Hurry and slow.
Obviously, I didn't embrace the lesson the labyrinth wanted to teach me that day in North Carolina. To go slow along life's paths and enjoy the entire journey. While I seemed to have heard the message to go slow sometimes, I hadn't learned how to live slowly each and every day. So as in most cases with life when something isn't learned, the problem usually circles around and comes back at you. The labyrinth beckoned to me again today. Not in the same way it did all those years ago, but while on the Internet this morning as I read the web page of a UU church. The word "labyrinth" jumped out from the page, seeped into my brain, and immediately felt like the solution to what had been making me feel unsettled for days.
I felt an immediate urge to go walk a labyrinth and this time to do it with more contemplation. To go slow and take it in and to be open to what it wants to show me about my life. Many websites on the Internet talk about labyrinths being metaphors for your life's journey such as the quote below found on the website Lesson's 4 Living :
"Your life is a scared journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges every step of the way. You are on the path...exactly where you are meant to be right now...And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing and courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.
~ Caroline Adams
There are many ways to walk a labyrinth- while walking in person, with your fingers on paper, or even virtually while on your computer. I am thinking I would like to replicate the setting I had when I walked my first labyrinth and have found one located in a wooded site not too far from my home by using the labyrinth locator on the Labyrinth Society website. Walking a labyrinth and thinking about my life's path- a good way to start the New Year.