As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was at a pastor’s retreat for a few days. In addition to playing Two Truths and a Lie, we also had time for rest and contemplation. In addition to a quiet pond and walking trails, the retreat center also had a labyrinth.
Of course, I helped myself.
This labyrinth was like many others, styled in the oft-used form of labyrinth at Chartres. I don’t remember now what intention I had set as I entered the labyrinth. I remember looking down, as I usually do, following the turns, waiting to be led to the center. And then I missed it.
Suddenly paying attention to where I was walking, I realized I walked around the center. The center of this labyrinth was a roundabout. Not a regular roundabout, where there are many exits, but it functioned the same. It wasn’t like National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
My problem was getting off.
It was staying in.
The center looked like a regular turn. Following the path without ever looking up, I simply kept on going. For if there is a goal to a labyrinth, it is to reach the center. This midpoint is a place to reflect – possibly changing your intention. Reaching the heart of the labyrinth is like the top of your inhale in a breath prayer – you hold it for a moment before the exhale. Or in the labyrinth, before you begin your way out.
To move through the center without pausing, is almost as irreverent as stepping across the boundaries. It’s not just that it isn’t done: doing so ignores the intentional walk of the labyrinth. How easy it is to do the same in life.To move through the center without pausing, is almost as irreverent as stepping across the boundaries. It’s not just that it isn’t done: doing so ignores the intentional walk of the labyrinth. How easy it is to do the same in life. Click To Tweet
I set my intention, my commitment to live my life in a faithful way. I keep my head down, trying to keep out the noise that would distract me from my intention. And this is good. But if I don’t stay connected to the world around me, might I miss what God intends? Without a pause to reflect, will I hear the Spirit’s nudging to change my intention? Will I walk right by those Jesus would have me see?
Even in the labyrinth where we can’t take a wrong turn, we can still take a wrong step. It doesn’t take us off the path but we might miss the fullness of what God hopes for us.
I was only a few steps past the center, so I went back. And paused. And walked the roundabout. And thought about what else I might be missing by not looking up and realizing where I am. Then, I exhaled and began the walk out.
My child, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understandwhat is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. – Proverbs 2:1-11 (NIV)