“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.