Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm out in Tucson, AZ right now for a reclusive Christmas vacay. At the resort here there is a small labyrinth that was designed and blessed by a local Native American. As I walked through it this morning many thoughts came to mind. I'd like to share just one here.
The walls of this particular labyrinth are made up of small 6-8" round stones that have been uniformly stuck into the dirt and protrude vertically to create the guiding map for the journey. At the center there are about twenty stones, some stacked on top of one another. And you can see these stones in the center as you walk.
One of the potential complications with labyrinths is that the center, which is meant to represent nearness to God and Self, is often far away from the walker. This aspect to the labyrinth can cause one to suppose that God is always far off, awaiting our arrival to some ambiguous culmination. And in one sense this is true. We cannot reach the fulness of relationship with God until Christ returns to establish the Reign of God in full.
However, as I walked the labyrinth this morning I noticed some important symbolism (intentional or not) within the layout of the stones. While there were many stones in the center - the very place where God and Self would come together - there were also stones guiding the way to the center. Not only were stones representative of the goal, but they were the light for the pilgrimage.
I very much appreciate this because it underscores the fact that God is not always a far-off concept or something "up there." Rather, God is also very much involved in each step of the way; in the messy reality of life.
The key to this theological metaphor, however, is that one must notice the center stones before gaining the ability to notice the guiding stones. That is, what you know about the center affects how you see the periphery. Again, how you see the goal will ultimately affect your ability to see the journey.
As I walked the labyrinth, this was a helpful discovery. I hope that it offers the reader a reminder to be on the lookout for stones guiding your own journey.