Does anyone just walk over the rocks to the center? As I mentioned in Labyrinth Reflections: The Way In, if you don’t step outside the boundaries, the labyrinth will guide you on your journey. However, I left my sunglasses in the center (do you see them in the picture?) and didn’t realize it until I was heading to my car. I had already shared my time with the labyrinth and needed to get to another appointment.
Why did it feel so wrong to just step across the paths to retrieve my sunglasses?
It wasn’t about breaking the rules. It actually felt like a violation of the sacred – a violation of holy space. Is this what sin should feel like: an unnatural act or a violation of holy space?
Are the shortcuts we take in life our refusal to walk the path that is before us? I don’t believe that God causes our suffering. I do believe God allows it to happen. Sometimes even our prayers are shortcuts. Our natural response to suffering is to pray that we be delivered from it. And this is OK – the Psalms are full of this kind of prayer. We should give voice to our suffering.
But shouldn’t our prayers also include requests for patience, wisdom and perseverance?
Examine me, God! Look at my heart! Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts! Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me, then lead me on the eternal path! – Psalm 139:23-24 (CEB)
Shouldn’t we be praying just as mightily for God to show us the stream in the desert rather than to just pluck us up and put us on a nice beach somewhere? I think this is especially true, when like Job, we didn’t take a shortcut but rather find a time of darkness and suffering within the boundaries of the labyrinth. Sometimes the holy space includes suffering. Thank God that we do not walk these paths alone.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 (NRSV)
The shortcut I took allowed me to quickly get to the center and retrieve my sunglasses – but I don’t think it works this way in real life. If it did, the labyrinth would be more like a maze. We would constantly be stumbling over the boundaries God has put in place to protect us. We would lose sight of the markers God has placed to guide us. We may find that we exit the labyrinth without ever getting to where God intended. Or having hurried, cut short God’s preparation for when we arrive.
My focus for today is to remember that the journey is sacred and to allow every step to be holy space.