"Not all who wander are lost." - J.R.R.. Tolkien
I visited St. John's Cathedral for the first time this week. I was picking up a book an Episcopal priest friend recommended to me and since I was there, I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some beautiful Gothic-French architecture.
I was delighted to find an interactive prayer labyrinth in the sanctuary. So I removed my sandals and spent the next 20 minutes winding my way through the ancient guided meditation. I've never walked a labyrinth and at first I thought it might be an exercise in futility, more of an awkward balance act than spiritual insight.
But as I passed in and around the lanes, I found myself thinking about a number of things I was doing that resonated deeply with this season in my spiritual life. First of all, I found an internal drive to want to get to the end or the center fast. The process wasn't the point but getting to the center was, and yet the way the labyrinth is set up, it doesn't allow that to happen. It leads you very close to the center and you think you are going to end and then you are led back to the outer rim and back into the other quadrants of the labyrinth. Back and forth, in and out, you weave as you are led forward in an act of trust.
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says in Haggai 1:5, "Give careful thought to your ways."
I found myself lost within the middle of the exercise, I couldn't anticipate or see where I was going or how to 'finish', I just had to keep walking, trusting the plan. I knew it would lead me in, but I wasn't aware of how or where it would go after I found the center.
Slowly I just gave up trying to figure it out and...walked.
I embraced the quiet of the empty cathedral and focused on my steps and my path. I finally ended up in the center and then realized I had to return the way I had arrived. The way in was the way out, the beginning was the ending. So I paused, breathed in the moment of arriving and began my returning.
I finished my little Celtic experience of contemplation and felt more attune to the truth of following God in the mystery of guidance, lostness, repetitive practice and simply walking. I shared in the simplicity of attentive practice, showing up, finishing what you start and learning to trust and relax on the journey.
It was a good moment in a sacred place of worship and witness. I left blessed by the gift.