Our "Deepening the Well: Resources for Ministry and Life" class took a field trip today to a local labyrinth. We were asked to journal when we exited the labyrinth. Forgive me if I ramble...
17 February 2016: Walking this seven-circuit labyrinth, I found it to be the least perfect labyrinth I've ever experienced. Painted on the floor, not straight, uneven in places, uncentered at times, crude lines, very real. After I let go of its imperfections, I began to find myself reflecting on just how much this labyrinth was like ME in so many ways....uneven in places, uncentered at times...VERY real. Hmm. Walk around in circles enough times, and these things just come to you.
I walk the first part of every labyrinth with my arms held tightly behind my back. This allows me to grasp/hold/hang on to whatever might be troubling me in a very physical way. It literally opens up my chest cavity, as if to bear my real self to the space as I walk. When I reach the center of the labyrinth, I release the hold I once had on my arms - this is as symbolic as it is physical. The blood begins to flow again, and my arms can swing free, hang loosely, open up once again to the new life flowing from within me.
The clouds were dancing outside today - fascinating to watch. Slowly clumping together, and floating by the swaying trees, just outside the school windows in which this labyrinth was painted. There was a constant, rhythmic, dripping from a faucet in a nearby kitchen...which is rare to see in water-conscious, California.
As I step upon this imperfectly painted, holy wood, I think of all those with whom I've walked the labyrinth: I've danced it with Abby, I've prayed it with Susan, I've skipped it with Liana, I've trudged it (through snow) with Sarah...and as much as I've loved those memories, today I wished I'd have had the chance to walk it alone. The woman ahead of me walked a very, veerrrrrry slow and deliberate path today, and pace WAY too slow for this gal. I'm aware of the gift of slowing down every once in a while, but this was nuts. This is a MOVING prayer for me...and we weren't moving!
I entered the labyrinth today with the words "Lord, help me forgive" on my heart. I was mulling over a seemingly, important thorn in my side, and wanted to pray over this while twisting and turning. Instead, I ended up leaving with the thought "Lord, help me forgive myself." Forgive me for leaving the children, Lord, was the immediate thought that came to mind. Forgive me for leaving the little ones behind. For confusing small children about my departure. My heart ached as I took each step.
I walked around that labyrinth in that school room, surrounded by an analog clock that can only be found on school walls. Low hanging lights that are so typical of old, school gyms. Squeaks and creaks of an old, wooden floor. A sliding-wall, divider to separate the space. And for heaven's sake, there was even a piano. Goodness, I couldn't help but think of the children. Seeing and hearing from so many of them yesterday for my birthday certainly made my heart more tender and open to emotions. Obviously, I know it's not really the children, that's just where my heart went first. Always.
"Forgive those who trespass against us." That petition of the Lord's Prayer follows the one where WE ask for forgiveness of our own trespasses. Here I walk, I thought, thinking about how I'm going to reach out, to forgive, to move one...and I'm brought back to my own reality of just how much I need to be forgiven myself. I wonder how many people are thinking to themselves tonight about forgiving me. Somehow, I struggle with making the choice to forgive those closest again and again and again... "If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?" Psalm 103:3 comes to mind.
So, surprise, surprise, I'm left with a paradox of yearning to want to forgive, but not really being in an authentic, space of willingness. When those we thought we knew/understood shatter our expectations, it's hard to know where or how to begin again. Clearly, fear takes up a huge space of what could better be used for love, and shuts down one's openness and willingness to extend grace. I can't even begin to imagine how many times I've been offered grace...with a personality like mine, I know my exuberance is often too much for folks. I know that my candid nature is sometimes to loud or my wit too quick for all.
So, there's grace upon grace for me....how am I not willing to offer that to others?!