Sometimes you have to trust that the path of life will take you where you need to be. Actually, you should do that all time because there really is no other path to walk. It’s not like you can hop over to the next trail and walk someone else’s life for awhile. Your life. Your path.
Nowhere is this clearer than in a labyrinth. I learned that the other day. I’ve always been intrigued by labyrinths. There are some around here, mostly in churches, but I’d never been to one. So during my last hour at the Serenbe Inn, I followed their not-exactly-to-scale map to get to the labyrinth. The path there went under an arbor, over a wooden bridge that crossed a small lake, and into a woods dotted with Greek statues. For a moment I thought the first statue was a person, a strangely slender person of unusual skin color. I admit I was a little on edge. I was worried about someone else being around. I didn’t want a witness for my first time walking a labyrinth. What if I didn’t do it right? Plus I was having some difficulty with the map and had made a couple of wrong turns. But it led me true, mostly, and I found the entrance.
Serenbe’s labyrinth is laid out with stones and you can enter to the left or the right. I had to make a choice. Already the labyrinth was mirroring life, and I really didn’t like it. What if I choose the wrong the way? Was there a correct way to start? Was it like a bike path and there were unwritten rules somewhere? I looked around. There were no instructions anywhere. A little podium of sorts stood close by, but there was nothing on it. I was pretty sure the instructions had blown away.
I choose left.
I walked the first loop of the labyrinth only to find that it brought me surprisingly close to the center. This was bad! I’d just gotten started and I was almost done. Left was surely the wrong way to begin. Take the wrong road, make the wrong choice, and the (meditative) path of life is short! There was so much I hadn’t explored. But just before the center, the trail turned and turned again.
The labyrinth worked -- twisting and turning, following a path to the center, a journey within. While my thoughts didn’t dissipate and leave me with a peaceful mind, they did become clearer. After all there was nothing to do but walk . . . and occasionally glance around to make sure no one else was coming . . . a steady rhythm jostling thoughts into order so they become easier to examine even if they don’t melt away.
The center still came too soon. I plopped down on one of the five stone blocks in the middle like it was a natural part of the process. I now know it’s not. When I got home I googled labyrinths. I’m pretty sure Serenbe’s labyrinth is laid out like the one at Chartres, but a traditional Chartres labyrinth has no seats in the middle and has only one way to enter: left. I’d chosen correctly. I was so proud of my natural labyrinth walking instincts. Okay, so pride has no place in a meditative walk. I know. I need practice.
After a few minutes of sitting in the center with my thoughts, I walked out following the path I’d taken in. That is part of the journey, to take out into the world what is discovered within.
(Strangely enough, that is exactly what the novel I just finished writing is all about. Walking the path of life, listening to the voice within, finding your true self . . . all with alien gods and true love mixed in. I know . . . I can hardly believe it either!)
I want to go back to Serenbe just to walk the labyrinth again. And for the food, too. And the quiet. And that table on the lakehouse porch I claimed for own. Okay, basically for the overall fabulousness that is Serenbe.
When I go back I’ll head to the labyrinth first. I’ll be sure to pack my tennis shoes just for that. You should too.
For when you walk the path of life, wear comfortable shoes.