Author Ian Cron explained about the Labyrinth he’d set up in the Sacred Space at the #LUMINOUS12 CONFERENCE in Franklin, TN a few weeks ago. One dictionary defines a labyrinth as an “intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one's way or to reach the exit.” But a labyrinth is so much more. Ian talked about it as a “contemplative spiritual discipline on a simple marked path that is based on the ancient practice of pilgrimage where a pilgrim intentionally leaves the world, journeying away from the noise and distractions of life, eventually arriving and resting with Christ.”
My first labyrinth walk was in the Fall of 2008 at St. Mary’s Retreat House in Sewanee, TN. As I stepped into the area, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz gently testing her toe on the yellow brick road. But instead of Tin Man, the Lion, and Scarecrow as friends to accompany me, I traveled alone. Taking a few more steps, I realized that I was faithfully following the path, but I was moving farther away from the center where I perceived God would meet me. Panic ensued! My heart rate went up and I’m sure my blood pressure too, as I continued to walk away from God!
There was an easy way out of my distress; just jump across the path and exit the labyrinth, leaving my uncomfortableness behind. But I was on the same path my faith has taken over the years with fits and starts, not running straight towards God. But God has never been far away. My heart rate slowed and I continued on, eventually reaching the center of the labyrinth. I didn’t want to leave the center, but it had started to rain. I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving and headed back, tracing my steps to exit the labyrinth. I had met Christ at the center of that elaborate maze.
Later, I found a brochure in my room at the Retreat House that described the return trip from the center of the labyrinth, “You will be mindful of God’s call for discipleship and realize that you have been affirmed and believe that you already are a Child of God; now it is your turn to go out and help others find that sacred space in their life where God waits for us all.”
Ian Cron described my first experience walking a labyrinth perfectly: “It’s not just about the physical activity of walking, but the change in you as you find God at the center of your life.”
(Photo: Labyrinth on Vanderbilt University Campus, Nashville, TN-2011)