movement that I avoid.
I am usually the one who creates the space, spreads the canvas, lights the candles. The one to hold prayerful presence.
I tell myself it is because I connect so deeply to the swish swish of the clothing passing by, the muffled steps of socked and naked feet, the pauses and pirouettes along the pathway. It is enough to sit on the sidelines and observe.
And while it is the truth, it is also a lie. I avoid the labyrinth because I fear being broken open.
Today, the canvas begs me to enter. It is 5 minutes before anyone else arrives. I tell myself that I’ll start now so that when others arrive they’ll be encouraged to step in. While this is true, it is a lie. But I enter anyway.
I am moving fast, faster than my normal step-pause-step-pause. Step Step I go, up and turn, long pace and turn, near the center and then out again to the outer ring. My mind flits and bounces from one thing to another. All truths. All lies. I reach the center. I stand.
The center of the labyrinth is always a holy place for me. It lays be bare. I cannot avoid God there. All truths and all lies. The Mysterium Tremendum comes thundering into that space, like thick warm air. Like the thick warm air of bread baking, of cider mulling, of soup. Soup with rivels. So, I stay.
My breath relaxes, my mind slows. I absorb the emmanuel, the God with us…. and I leave the center. Step step.
Step step, and I quit thinking with my brain, and enter my heart’s intelligence, knowing this was what I was avoiding in the first place. The thick holy air guides me with courage. My ears hear the dischords of today’s news of “Hands Up” “Don’t Shoot” “I Can’t Breath”. These phrases clock my pace, step step. My hands raise, “Hands Up”…..and I breath deeply “I Can’t Breath”….and I feel the break coming “Don’t Shoot”. And there I am. Not a gushing mess, not a molten lump, but a cracked open white woman, who has cop friends and black friends, and a love for all humanity, and a disdain for violence. Hands Up, step step. Hands open. Palms receiving. Life entering.
In this advent labyrinth, Christ is on the run, in a hold, an immigrant child fleeing for his life, his breath, just wanting a place to grow up. Where is Jesus’s emmanuel?
as others move inward on the path that I am now moving outward, we anticipate one another’s presence, knowing that we will meet and step aside, making room, blessing the passing. The short turns, step step, the long passages, step step…..and the final path out. I turn to look and see who I’ve been walking with, and my heart fills my chest, I can’t breath. I am so full of love. Love that pains, that breaks, that is raw and real. This is the truth.
Life is full of pain, is real and raw, and it breaks us. Sometimes there is death, violent death. Sometimes we are the cause for the demise of another. Sometimes we are onlookers with unhelpful opinions. Sometimes it is enough to just keep moving. Step step.
As always, the photos are from google images. The experience I write of took place in Nicarry Chapel at Bethany Theological Seminary 12/5/14. Several times a semester we lay down a hand painted canvas labyrinth which has moved thousands of feet and hearts…cracking us open, filling us up, allowing the void. Each time, it is a different experience.