I have been thinking about walking the labyrinth recently. I have only walked a labyrinth once; about four years ago at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I had gone there to teach for the first time, and when I discovered that there is a labyrinth there, I determined to walk it.
Walking a labyrinth is intended to be a spiritual experience; a quest of sorts. It is a celtic notion, and, though I do not tend to buy into 'new age spirituality', I did not think it would do me any harm. I don't think I expected much in the way of it being a spiritual walk, but I am pretty open to new harmless experiences.
So early one morning, before the sun was completely up, and before even my first cup of coffee, I went out to walk the labyrinth. A labyrinth is not like a maze, where you must search for your way. A labyrinth has only one way in, and the same way back out. There are no decisions to be made, except the initial decision to walk the path, and the decision to stay the course. You just put one foot in front of the other and follow the path. Though the Ghost Ranch labyrinth is small, walking it is really quite slow and tedious. You feel as if you keep ending up at the same place over and over again; like you are not progressing at all. You go around and back, then back around and back again. After a short while I found myself thinking, "this is stupid; I could be back in bed." I was watching my feet and the path as I walked, concentrating on staying where I was going. But then the boredom of watching the path led me to look up, to see what was around me. The sun was just beginning to warm the beautiful place I was in.
A coyote ran across a nearby road way. Georgia O'Keefe's Pedernal was in the distance. The cactus were blooming. My frustration left me. Walking the path was now just something I was doing as I became aware and appreciative of my surroundings.
I don't think I necessarily had a deep spiritual experience that day as I walked the labyrinth. But today I keep thinking of walking that path. It seemed like I was going around in circles, continuously ending up in the same place. I didn't feel like I was progressing at all, but I did eventually make it to the end. I think of these things because some events in my life seem to keep repeating over and over again; there seems to be no progress or movement forward. But I do know that I am still going forward and an end will eventually be reached. I just need to quit looking down at my feet and trust that the path is going in the right direction. In the labyrinth that is my Life, there is really only one way in and one way out. The only decision to be made is whether or not to stay the course, and as it was that day at Ghost Ranch, it is a beautiful path to be on. I will keep to it to the end.
(This final photo was obviously not taken at Ghost Ranch. It was taken in Rockland, Maine, and is unaltered.)