I love a good road trip. Give me 6 or 7 hour on open highway, a bag of Puffy Cheetos and some Twizzlers and I'm good! Don't get me started on having just the right playlist of music! This may not be bliss consciousness but to me it's real close. The cross-country move I recently made with my son in our pick up truck was as close to a unitive experience as a contemplative could ask for. I doubt the rest of my family felt that way. But I loved it. I think that's why I love walking labyrinths. Walking a labyrinth is a road trip mixed with a Divine encounter with a side order of change.
The scriptural call is for us to meditate. If we dare to listen, the craving of our heart is to keep company with God in the stillness of pure being. Eternity tugs on our souls to make pilgrimage to the deepest part of God. Walking labyrinths answers that call for me. When I tread the well-worn path of a good labyrinth I enter the time when God and I do business. We do the business of striping an incalcitrant man of his ego, arrogance and pride. It is the encapsulation of the classical journey of encountering God to the point of awakening, the purging of the sins that so easily derail us, then a move toward illumination that ultimately leads to union not just with God but with humanity as well. The Labyrinth is the ancient pilgrimage to Jerusalem contained in a space no bigger than a carport. Here are three things I've learned from my labyrinth road trips:
1. Like every healthy spiritual journey the labyrinth always leads you to center. Unlike a maze the labyrinth has just one path and it leads to the center. I would content, most healthy spiritual journeys are the same. They lead to the center place within where your spirit and the Spirit of God find communion.
2. The closer you are to the edge - the closer you are to center. The way the labyrinth is designed the closer you are to the outer edges actually means you are getting closer to the path that leads to the center. As with life, if you are on the outer boundaries where you are connected with the marginalized, you encounter the other, when you are engaged with people on the edge, your actually are getting closer to the center place of meeting God. Jesus would say it this way, "What so ever you do to the least of these you do to Me".
3. You don't set the path. You walk it. I would love to be in charge of every aspect of my spiritual formation. I'd like to determine when I grow, how much I grow and what are the conditions that foster my growth. Neither life nor the labyrinth gives me that luxury. So the questions I must ask as I walk the labyrinth as well as when I do a life of faith are this: Am I still willing to walk it if I'm not in control of it? Am I willing to trust God in the mystery and that God is with me in the mystery? Real and substantive growth comes from the journey when my heart and my feet answer "yes".
Give me a good road trip any day. Especially if the journey itself molds and shapes me into the likeness of Christ.