I stood at the entrance of the labyrinth. It was a chilly spring day, but I could still feel the sun through the double layering of my sweaters. I gazed at the winding shape of the pathway in front of me. I have walked labyrinths in many different forms and places. Unlike the others I have experienced, instead of stepping inside the marked space, the actual pathway here was constructed of stones that you walk on directly. The rocks jutted out at sharp angles, uneven and rough. The rows were set tightly together, and at some points, it even looked like someone had been inebriated when they were working. But overall it was in a familiar 11 circuit form, so I began my walk without hesitation.
This was the second day of my silent retreat. I was well rested now, but I was still jangled. You know the feeling? When your skin feels too thin to protect your organs and your stomach is almost always in butterflies.
I had felt a vague sense of foreboding humming in the background of my life for months. But as I travelled in and on, around and forward through the pathway, I slowly began to relax. My breath deepened and the rhythmic stepping and praying lulled me into a more peaceful meditative place. Until…
All of a sudden I was jolted into reality.
I looked at my feet and then behind me and around me. Was I travelling backwards? I’ve lost track of where I am! Didn’t I just walk from there? Am I facing in the right direction? Why am I retracing my steps? Am I retracing my steps? I should be heading into the middle! I started to panic. My heart rate doubled. Where am I? I’m lost. Oh my god, I screwed this up. I couldn’t even get this right!! I felt like I was going to cry.
Fortunately, my inner sane-person snapped into action. That other voice began to coach me off the flat stone imaginary ledge I had launched myself onto…”Tracy”, she said in her deep, authoritative voice, “you can just walk out. You are not in prison. This is not an emergency. Just walk out. Walk. Out.
Settle down. You can leave if you want to.”
I gulped in air, calmed down, then stood still for a moment to collect myself. I decided to keep walking. I figured I would either go back into the centre again and it would take a few extra minutes to finish my walk or I would shorten it by walking back out and miss some of the path. No big deal.
Fifteen minutes later I found myself back at the entrance again. I made it! I turned around and looked back at the pathway. I stood for a few minutes pondering.
The weird thing was that I had not been on the wrong pathway when I got so panicked. Nothing terrible was happening and I wasn’t off track.
I was on the right pathway, but I THOUGHT I was wrong. Oh my God. What am I doing to myself? How did I get into such a mental and emotional mess? I stood there for a long time and finally, I saw light through the fog…
I am on the right path. And if I’m not, I can correct it in the next step.
As long as I’m moving forward it is not a mistake.
I have only one job. My job is to just keep walking. One step at a time.
What mind games do you play with yourself? What “one step” could you take right now to move your life forward?
What holds you back from taking it? If you take that step and it’s wrong what do you fear the consequences will be?
A labyrinth is not a maze, but a path constructed on principles of ancient sacred geometry where a walker moves in toward a centre and then back out again along the same path. It is a metaphor for your spiritual journey. Some of the earliest ones date back well over a thousand years! Here in Vancouver we have them at St. Mary’s Church in Kerrisdale, St. Paul’s in the West End and there is even one behind the UBC School of Economics. The one I am referring to in my blog was at Rivendell on Bowen Island.
At various times throughout the year, there is also an outdoor labyrinth constructed on sand at Spanish Banks. Check here to see when the next one is scheduledhttp://walkingalabyrinth.blogspot.com/.
Have a glorious week…and keep on stepping!