In the labyrinth

I’m writing this as I sit on a cast-iron bench next to the labyrinth at Colorado College, immersing myself in a moment of stillness. Despite the incessant construction noise from across the lawn, it’s peaceful here, and I needed to find some peace today. 

I’ve been undergoing a healing journey that’s lasting a lot longer than I thought it would – which is how I’m choosing to reframe what could also be said as “I’ve been sick for more than a month and I am well and truly sick of it.” But today, as I walked this labyrinth in solitude, I realized I am healing in so many layers of my life. 

It would be hard not to realize, as you walk a labyrinth, how wholly it serves as a physical metaphor for life. I’m navigating so many labyrinths right now – my physical health, my emotional health, my pursuit of making a living following my heart’s deepest dreams – all are taking far, far more circuitous routes than I expected or, let’s be honest, than I ever wanted. 

It feels like I’m always on the cusp of something. If I can just finish X, I’ll be able to do Y. Once I take care of A, B, and C, I can immerse myself in D. Again and again, there’s the unexpected turn in the path. It would seem there are no straight lines in life. At least, not in mine. 

Walking the labyrinth today, I remembered this, and realized that this is, undeniably, how life goes. There will always be an unexpected turn. But I still reached the center of the labyrinth. I trusted the path, though it was hard to see – its paving stones just barely a different shade than those defining its boundaries – and I kept going, and eventually I stepped into the stone circle’s​ center just as intended.

About a third of this particular labyrinth is covered by the shade of a lovely large tree. Too, the sun waited behind clouds when I first arrived here. But at some point as I trod the path, the sun came out, and when I stepped into the center at last, I stood on a small circle inside a large circle inside a still larger circle with the uninhibited sun shining on me. And damn, it felt good. I quietly aligned my body into mountain pose and stood facing west, then east, then south, then north. Then I turned back to west and put my hands together at my heart, in a silent namaste. 

And just as I did, at the precise moment my hands met, the bells rang at Shove Chapel, which sits right next to the labyrinth. It felt like a benediction, like an aural cairn to mark my path. 

We are all of us winding through a labyrinth right now, one considerably darker and more difficult to trust than this circular path surrounded by green lawn and the privileged halls of learning where I’ve walked today. Often in a labyrinth, it seems you’re almost back where you started, far from the center, when suddenly the path curves and takes you right to the heart. 

I keep hoping that this moment, whatever the latest moment is, is that farthest point before we reach our collective goals of racial equity, social justice, authentic liberty and justice for all. America’s history is a long, twisted, and for many, torturous labyrinth. Certainly the election of our 45th president is a turn I did not see coming. But the path will turn again, and keep turning, and someday we, or our children, or theirs, will reach that central sanctuary – a place where equality isn’t just words but the experience of daily life.

Life is inevitably made of journeys within journeys. I’ve come to believe that the healing journey is a central and ongoing part of life. We each have our own healing to do, not least when it comes to our individual grappling with white supremacy and the toxic role it’s played in our past and present. A whole lot of us white people especially need to deal with that on a personal level before true change can happen on a national level, I think. 

Whatever kind of healing journey you yourself are on, I wish you the courage to keep walking. Peace.

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