A week ago, I went walking in a labyrinth.
Really what happened was that the labyrinth came to find me. It visited our campus and I felt compelled to go.
I’ve never walked a labyrinth before, though like any card-carrying myth-lover and child of the 80s, I have a certain fondness for the idea.
So I went to the labyrinth with a big, thorny, knotty question in my gut. Things that just wouldn’t resolve. Answers I couldn’t find. Hurts that just wouldn’t lessen.
I wanted to learn about answers. Instead, first, I learned a little bit about the many ways to walk the question.
Ways to walk the labyrinth
Like knitting: the yarn that follows or the needle that guides. The braiding together of disparate threads.
Like cooking: the spoon that stirs or the soup that swirls and eddies. Flavor alchemy.
Like dancing: with pirouettes as the path turns, on tiptoe, anticipating. Balancing the shifts. Shifting to anticipate what shifts.
Like writing: following the line, your feet like ink, your path a phrase.
Like singing, sustained and allegro. Like breathing, counting your steps in and out.
Like a map: I’ve been here before (but it’s different). Or, I’ve never been here (but it looks familiar). Or familiarity that’s shocking, as you enter from a different door.
You can love the path that doesn’t get you to the center, but comes close. The almost-path.
You can despair at the ending of the circles and their paths and rhythms; you can rejoice at the center, as a place of pause and surveying; you can run toward the center and its relief.
Walking can be continuous loops, or proceed in stages: each quarter of the whole is a new sector to explore. Walking as a review; it can be halting. You can straddle two paths and love the transition. You can resist it. You can abandon the path and skip inward, if you really want to.
Entrance as exit. Exit as beginning. Middle as beginning. Ouroboros.
It was a wonderful, meditative experience. In my stockingfeet on the canvas over the wooden floor, quiet morning light outside. A sense of privacy and safety.
But it didn’t, of course, give me any answers.
Or, not immediately.
The things that followed me out
Since that day walking the labyrinth, important things have begun happening. Seismic shifts.
I’m suddenly planning a Shiva Nata class for the college community where I work, even though I have never taught it before or gone to a training.
After struggling and hurting so much about the issue of community in my workplace, all year, it feels like I am suddenly a connector for other people, a leader in some small way. It’s like a tiny light in my heart against the cynical outer darkness of the world.
I had an amazing breakfast with the lovely Larisa, during which a whole cascade of troubles seemed to coalesce and become clear. Not that I have a solution before me, but I have a much clearer view of the field, as it were. Not to mention appreciation for friendship and connections and time and the necessity of all these things.
I’ve been contemplating taking one tiny dream and applying the wild donkey technique that has been teasing my brain with possibilities and excitement.
I’ve been following a tiny morning practice for nearly two weeks. It’s brought the kind of clarity and peace that a lifetime of list-making and agenda-hewing and guilt and stuck and ack has been unable to tackle.
I’ve begun practicing Level 3 of Shiva Nata, after the last eight months of sticking to my little realm of Level 1 and 2 and being unable to even articulate why I didn’t feel comfortable making the leap to a new level.
Maybe the labyrinth came at just the right time. Maybe it didn’t produce these things, but provide a small platform when they were already ready to spring forth. The sunshine on the seed. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m incredibly grateful and humbled by these big and good things that are happening.
And I’m especially grateful for how the place of gratitude makes it so, so much easier to love all the monsters that crowd around, and believe that they truly want me to succeed, too. It’s a far better place than where I’ve been for the last month or so. It gives me a bit of hope to go on.
I’m thinking a lot of all my blog friends who read. Please know, if you’re reading these words, how incredibly grateful I am for you, and how much love I have for who you are, and for your own monsters and dragons, and how much hope I have for you because of that love. It’s cheesy but it’s true.