I walked a labyrinth in Ashland, Oregon today. Trinity Episcopal Church has a 42-foot-Chartes style labyrinth in the midst of their sacred garden near downtown-a quiet meditative space in the midst of breweries and boutiques,coffee shops and New Age bookstores.
I don’t think there is anything special about labyrinths. They provide a path for people to prayer walk if they don’t want to actually go anywhere while they are prayer walking (but in). But at different times I’ve found them helpful for clarifying my inner landscape.
For example, a decade ago I walked a labyrinth while on retreat. It was after a season of intense Christian service. I was preparing to attend (un)seminary. As I walked, I was struck by how at times I seemed close to the center but had to keep walking a ways before I got anywhere close. Conversely, I noted that as the path winded to the outer rim, I was actually nearer to the Center than I was before. This was a vivid picture for me of pursuing God, feeling both distant and drawn in.
Today as I stepped into the labyrinth, I was struck by how circuitous the route was, not unlike my own path as I’ve sought to live in the center of God’s will. I graduated from seminary six years ago, found a denomination we felt was a good fit, but I had no ministry job on the horizon. I took a job at the local hardware store and waited. When I finally found a pastor job. It took me from Washington to Florida. I thought I was closing in on the center, but it turned out to be a bad fit. Twists, delays and doubling back again.
I’ve kept walking, still pursuing the Kingdom of God, community, hospitality and justice. We’ve traversed the country again, looking for a place to belong. this time in Southern Oregon (Ashland/Medford area). Still walking near the outer rim, hoping to close in on the center. What’s next? Church planting? Bivocational ministry? Or something else? The way is made by walking, but one day soon I will rest with Christ my center. I will lay aside my fears and hopes for the life and mission He’s calling me.