When I’m driving someplace new, it often seems like it takes a long time to get there. But the way home always seems quicker. I suppose this is because I’m not paying as close attention to the route or because I’ve now “been there.” With respect to the labyrinth: Is the way out the same as the way in?
If the last year was a labyrinth, the way out was certainly different.
I am different.
I entered reluctantly. My worshipping community has gone through a painful divorce. I don’t need to go into the details here, but everywhere you looked, there were people bleeding. Finished with seminary except for one on-line class, I had significant time to talk with people – and to really listen. As I discerned what God was calling me to do – or not do – I narrowed down three perceived needs of the church that were aligned with my heart. From there, I identified how these needs could be met and where I might uniquely serve in the healing process. This place was worship.
I entered the labyrinth knowing that I was “technically” able. I entered to preach and lead worship in order to provide consistency and familiarity to the community. As we walk the labyrinth, it’s not about how well we do it but our willingness to enter.
On the way in, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I thought this walk would be short – only 3 months. But here’s one thing I’ve learned in the recent labyrinths I’ve walked: God isn’t necessarily concerned with what my expectations are or what the experience is to be. Instead, God teaches me what I really need to know in the way God decides I should experience and learn it.
In the labyrinth of the last year, I had the privilege to serve with an amazing staff. I served for a short time with a wonderful pastor (who probably also experienced and learned things he wasn’t expecting). I led worship with a talented and faithful worship team that allowed us to try and experience new aspects of worship. I hope that I helped my brothers and sisters hear and trust God as we walked the labyrinth together. I was blessed to lead worship on Christmas Eve and Easter (as a seminary student!!). I was allowed to share my faith and myself with people I love.
We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much. – 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (CEB)
Appropriately, Easter was the center of this labyrinth. Five months in and six months out – the way out was definitely different from the way in.
The way out was more difficult personally. I was forced to really consider and define my call. I had to learn how to say good-bye to a community I love and the only church I’ve really known. The way out was emotionally exhausting. It tested and stretched me in many ways.
But it was also beautiful.
As a worshipping community, we learned how to say good-bye well. We experienced what it means to be the Church and to be united with Christ. In the labyrinth, the Sacraments became deeper and richer to me and my ministry. I will be eternally thankful.
What did I leave in the labyrinth? My church? Part of my past? Part of myself? Yes.
What did I take out? Really, these same things – just redefined, reborn and renewed. God is good.
4 Thoughts to “Labyrinth Reflections: The Way Out”
You were not alone on your labyrinth walk. We experienced much together and yet God had different learning lessons for us each. Staying under and submitting with obedience was my major take away. God used me and I was drained in giving to others bleeding through the journey. Yet, as He used me, He also healed me and freed me to move on to new horizons in healthcare chaplaincy. James said, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you experience trials of diverse kinds for the testing of your faith develops perseverance, which must finish its work so you can be mature and compete lacking nothing.” But if anyone lacks wisdom, ask of God and He will and He has provided it abundantly and overflowing with His love.
You’re right Randy – not alone. Even though we walk our own labyrinth, our path often intersects and joins other for a season.
That is a wonderful image to describe last year. I would add that others were walking, in some ways, the same labyrinth. Isn’t it always a question as to where I end and others begin? In a sense, your labyrinth was my/our labyrinth. I like the idea very much — twists and turns we did and did not see coming (and going?). Could be an image for life — both alone and together. It may be what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Follow.” Who knew (or knows) what’s ahead?
I think you’re right that we are both alone and together – especially in the Church. Paul says that we belong to one another when we belong to Christ – it is sometimes hard to tell where I end and others begin. Another way of thinking about loving our neighbor (and our enemy).