Friday, October 09, 2009

Labyrinth of Life

“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.” -- Joseph Campbell

The image of the labyrinth is one of a journey both inward and outward. It appears to meander and as with most journeys in life it is not linear. Lately, I seem to find the theme of pilgrimage everywhere. Part of it is that I have surrounded myself with books on the topic to help prepare for my own journey next week to Ireland. However, even as I am entering into those texts, I find how they overlay with my daily life and how I walk the path of pilgrimage each day.

Recently I was asked by my therapist (yes, I go to therapy and spiritual direction) whether or not I often ritualize things. My initial reaction was “no” and then I realized that ritualizing or re-creating experiences is what I do to make meaning. The therapist was referring to a recent event I relayed about visiting my parent’s grave in Oklahoma. It was a surreal and impacting event. As I sat between my parents’ gravesites, I listened to the silence around me and was gently led through a process of ritual that led to new healing in my relationship with my parents. It was a time of journeying inward to see what needed tending. I could not have planned it or if I had, I am certain the outcome would not have been the same. Nevertheless, I chose to enter the labyrinth of my childhood and was surprised by the healing that took place through a reenactment (ritualizing) of another time in space.

Last weekend, I led the Returning Home to Yourself workshop. It was yet another holy time. Looking back, I noticed how I had prepared and planned each exercise in great detail and with loving care. I was ready for the journey. Once it arrived, however, I found that by holding lightly to how I thought the group might respond and letting go of any perceived outcomes, the experience became richer than anything I might have imagined. A universal holiness came over the room as we engaged in ritual created in the moment. I stood in the center of our own labyrinth and let the spirit of God meet me there. In doing so, our group became one and more healing occurred.

In my last post, I asked the question, “How do you prepare for pilgrimage?” I am learning how it is I prepare and for today I believe this is my modus operandum: I do my homework, set aside time and space, lay the groundwork and then let go of everything I just did. In other words, I get out of my own way. Expectations and what if’s vanish into thin air and God moves in and creates something greater than I could possibly imagine. Sunrise Sister writes of a similar experience while visiting the holy land of Ephesus and Rebecca shares the same as she enters quiet time in her own home.

Today my pilgrimage has included an unexpected visitor early in the morning. Followed by the welcoming of a furry friend to visit for a few days. Sunshine. Blue skies and even a short nap before heading to work this afternoon. This evening, my family will gather to celebrate my daughter’s 17th birthday. All of these things make up the journey of a lifetime right here in my own backyard. They are the labyrinth I enter into and out of each day. They are where I meet the world and where God meets me. How can I possibly prepare? My only hope is that I be ready when the moments come.

5 comments:

Rebecca Johnson said...

I love the line, "how can I possibly prepare"? In the spiritual life it feels like we are constantly preparing. But in a sense we are preparing ourselves to be surprised, to let life happen to us. I am sure that you are "prepared" because this is the time and the place that God has brought you to.

Your retreat sounds so wonderful.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Lucy, Beautiful post and so meaningful to me in many personal ways. Preparing seems a bit frivolous in a way - the notion that we can prepare for the unexpected - yet how can we begin to enter the depth of a pilgrimage unless we have done our homework? I get goosebumps when I think of the experiences you will be encountering in Ireland, yet I get goosebumps with the outline and recognition of your "own backyard" your "own labryinth of daily living!" Again, beautiful post!

xoxoxo

lucy said...

rebecca--i love the notion of "preparing ourselves to be surprised." very cool and fitting!

ss--indeed how can we prepare for the unexpected? but doing our homework, i believe, creates more space for whatever may come. i am reminded of cp (or was it you?) talking about the brief stops being so much more meaningful because of the advance prep. not always running to catch up, per se.

so, glad you're back and looking forward to our next pilgrimage together! xoxoxo

Sorrow said...

It has been my observation, that when you are going on a pilgramage, you take a lot of "things with you" and you leave and pick up a lot of things on your journey.
I love that you chose the labyrinth as a symbol, for as I have explained to many people who ask about my "maze", a labyrinth has only one way in and one way out. where as a maze has a great many dead ends.
Life is a Labyrinth, for there really are no dead ends, only one way in and one way out, crossing back over those places inside and outside that you have already been.
A safe and blessed journey Lucy

lucy said...

sorrow - long time no see. i love how you have described the difference between a maze and the labyrinth - it really is profound. thank you!