Many of you may know that I have a labyrinth in my backyard. It has been as source of inspirational moments as well as a fabulous meditation practice. For a little background on my sacred space, I share this. When I purchased my home the backyard was grassless. It was a barren space. Yes, that means it was mostly soil that the canopy of trees shaded and limited what would successfully grow. In that yard of soil, I immediately saw the possibility for a sanctuary. After purchasing the pattern for the labyrinth that would occupy one quarter of my backyard space, I invited friends to help me assemble the labyrinth. With bricks from a small deconstructed patio, the labyrinth was formed. We gathered around the labyrinth and a chaplain shared a prayer and another sang a song. One by one we walked the circles into our inner sanctuaries, pausing at the center for time of reflection before returning to the exterior world. My labyrinth then became a treasured and blessed space. For the following 365 days someone walked the labyrinth. When I was out of town, a friend would come by to be sure the labyrinth had someone to walk its path, even if it meant climbing the fence when I forgot to leave the gate unlocked.
Over the years I have walked this labyrinth with questions on my heart, when I desired inspiration, or even to release a little energy before sitting for time of meditation. I have been blessed beyond measure by the gifts of this labyrinth. I have meticulously cared for this space and have trained Micah (my golden retriever) to honor its sacredness as well.
Today I walked my backyard in honor of one of my spiritual teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh. As I approached the corner of my yard, I couldn’t help but notice that recent winds had toppled the angels and fairies that sit along the path. Branches were strewn across the path, leaves were blown all around. There was a messiness in this quadrant of my yard that caused me to pause.
Typically, I would clear the space and make it perfect once more. Today I made another choice. Today I breathed in the freshness of the air and after a deep bow, I walked. With each step, newly fallen leaves and twigs crunched under my footsteps. As I approached larger tree branches, rather than move them aside, I stepped over or around them. As for the angel and fairies that now lay on the ground, I left them to be made upright at another time.
You see, today’s labyrinth walk greatly emulates the realities of life. There are many times that the path is easy and smooth. There are thankfully, many moments when life presents a path that is clearly discernable and effortless to follow. Then there are times when obstacles seem to appear from nowhere, or from a clear source. How we navigate these obstacles grows our faith, strength and resilience as we remember "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13). How we perceive the times that life’s path is not quite so clear engages our imagination, understanding and discernment. When we call upon our highest understanding, we are ushered along our way as 2 Timothy 2:7 tells us: “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything”.
Whether we step over them or walk around life’s obstacles is of lesser importance for me. What we learn from the experiences of this life’s journey is significantly more important to me.
As for the angel that have fallen. As I noticed the angel on its side, I realized that sometimes I stumble in my faith. Sometimes I forget that I am never lacking faith. In those instances, I am called to remember that all I need is the faith the size of a mustard seed. Surely, I can call up at least that much faith to walk this journey of life.
Once again, I am grateful for the lessons revealed by the labyrinth.