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LABYRINTHS: SHOCKINGLY NOT A MAZE

I’ve been really into labyrinths lately. There are a few great ones in San Francisco. One is up at Grace Cathedral. I paid it a visit today after years of intending to, because I've really been craving some quiet prayer time...I live in a loud neighborhood and generally prefer to surround myself with the noise of music and podcasts. So I made my way up there because I have a ton of decisions to process in my life and desperately need to spend time listening to God about all the changes. A nice little walk around the labyrinth gave me the space I needed this morning. 


Did you know that labyrinths aren’t puzzles, but windy paths?


Any labyrinth plaque will tell you this. Contrary to popular knowledge (and even appearance), they are not mazes or puzzles. It’s hard to tell when looking at all the twists and turns, but as you walk it, you find that you never have to make a decision about where to go. There are no dead ends, no wrong turns. This reminds me of my favorite Psalm, number 139. Life can take us many places--to the heavens or the depths of the grave. But the hand of God extends to each and every one of those places. 


I thought about this as I walked the labyrinth. I spend a ton of my time stressing about whether I’m making the right decisions for my life. I’ve been known to get overwhelmed on my days off because I want to spend my time in the best way possible--I don’t want to waste my relaxation. I want to do relaxation (and, you know, everything else) “right.” Yet, the more life I live and the more time I spend in prayer and silence, the less convinced I am that there’s a perfect path that my life has to follow. It’s like the difference between a tightrope and a labyrinth. The labyrinth is a place of clarity and exploration, not risky decisions or potential wrong steps. 


Along the bizarre path of the labyrinth, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of switchbacks. You walk down one direction for ten steps and then it has you turn back and walk in the direction you just came from. Does that feel like a spiritual analogy to anyone else? I feel like I walk the same paths with about six inches of difference over and over again. (I have over ten years’ worth of journals to prove this.) Sometimes I’ll pick up a journal from high school and find that I’m currently dealing with the same problem again, just six inches over now. That can be frustrating, but if the point of my life is to have fellowship with God, and that issue I keep dealing with has brought me to Him over and over again from different angles, then I guess I can’t complain too much. My role is to walk around in the space that He provides--exploring Him and His nature. Exploring His love for me. 


I could write a substantial list of the spiritual truths I glean in labyrinths, but I’ll stop there for today, leaving you with the point--find space for quiet exploration. Stop obsessing over staying on a perfect path. Maybe you can explore this at labyrinth near you? Give it a Google and find out.

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