I’ve become the keeper of the labyrinth, so to speak. I inherited it with my new job. It’s tucked away at the back of our property, close to the edge of the woods. I don’t know much about labyrinths. I’ve walked one a time or two at Montreat, but it still seems foreign to me. I’ve been at my new job for a little over three months now and I’ve only eyeballed our labyrinth from the parking lot. I figured it was about time to take the plunge.
A labyrinth is not a maze, although people often mistake it for one. You can get lost in a maze. There are wrong turns and dead ends. But not in a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a single path that leads you to the center. It is not, however, a direct path. Right when you think you’ve almost arrived, the path will double back, leading you off in the opposite direction. So close, and yet so far! But if you stick with the path, if you continue forward on your journey, you will without fail end up in the center.
By the time you reach the center you realize that while you thought the destination was the most important part, it was the journey that has benefit you the most. For as you followed that path with its switchbacks and unexpected turns, you began to shed the burdens that you carried at the start of the path. You became more aware of yourself, your breath, your movement. The closer you draw to the center, the more at peace you feel.
The labyrinth is a great metaphor for life. We are each on a path. We each have a destination in mind. Our paths often take us in unexpected directions. Right when we believe we’ve arrived, the path leads us in a new direction. But if we remain intent on completing our journey, on reaching our goal, we will eventually arrive. When we do, we will find ourselves lighter, freer, and more ready to accept the gift that awaits us.
Today is the first day of 2016. It’s a new year. A new path. A new opportunity to move closer to the center. Who knows where our path will lead us this year? Regardless of which unexpected turns we take, may we keep putting one foot in front of the other, enjoying every step along the way – and if not enjoying it, at least learning from it as we get closer and closer to our goal.
Happy New Year!