Labyrinth


Lately, in my journey towards the center of my Self, I’ve become preoccupied with the Labyrinth at Chartres cathedral. It’s a pattern inlaid on the floor; and the idea is that pilgrims visiting the cathedral could walk along the lines as a form of meditation and prayer.

I’ve always liked the notion of a labyrinth: a single path which, although it might twist and wind, leads inevitably to a center- and then leads back out to the entrance. It’s not a maze: there are no dead ends or false paths: all you have to do is trust the journey and it will get you where you need to go and then get you home again.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about labyrinths lately. I printed out a copy of the Chartres labyrinth to copy into my journal. As I did, it occurred to me that there are a number of lessons to be learned from a labyrinth. In the beginning, the path seems to be quite direct: you head straight towards the center in a straight line until suddenly getting diverted by the first turn. But it is a short detour, and you quickly return to that straight and focused path to the center. But just before you reach it, the path diverts again. And then it backtracks. And suddenly you’re moving away from your goal.

For a while you weave back and forth as the path folds on itself leading you away from the center before sending you off in an unanticipated direction. Okay: so you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, but you try to work your way back to the center. This time you don’t get quite as close before being diverted again to still newer territory- where you are once again able to get ever-so-close to your goal before everything unravels. And then you wander in the wilderness for forty years until suddenly, without apparent logic or effort, you end up exactly where you wanted to be.

Much like life.

I hope.

I think one of the things that appeals to me so much about labyrinths is that notion that you don’t need to control the path for it to take you where you want to go. But as a fairly direct person, it is also immensely frustrating to have to trust a long and winding road to travel a short distance. But, of course, the point of a labyrinth is not to reach the center as quickly as possible, the point is to make the journey and to experience the twists and turns.

Much like life.

So I’m trying to learn to enjoy the twists and turns more and to trust that although I often feel like I’m wandering aimlessly and pointed in the wrong direction that the path will lead me where I want to go. And that once I reach my goal, the path will be there to guide me home again.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 22, 2020.

2 Responses to “Labyrinth”

  1. I do like a labyrinth – they’re great meditative spaces, I find. I’m not great at sitting still to think, as I tend to get distracted, but with a labyrinth to walk somehow I find more focus. Thanks for sharing, I really like what you’ve written about relinquishing control over the details and trusting in a process.

    • Right? It some how seems so much easier to become centered while moving! I always loved labyrinths, but it was only recently that I started giving it much more thought: I guess that’s a symptom of These Times- having plenty of time to think deeply about things.

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