Friday, July 8, 2011

The Labyrinth

The labyrinth mutely sits in the middle of the cedar forest. The space above the labyrinth, cleared of trees, provides a clear view of the bright blue sky, dappled with cotton ball clouds. The nearby water of a fountain continually rushes, creating a soothing, watery sound as it splashes to a pool three feet below. The white rocks lining the labyrinth gleam in the bright summer afternoon sun. If I were to step over the rock boundaries straight to the center of the labyrinth, I’d be there in a mere eight steps. I choose instead to follow the labyrinth’s circuitous path. Around and around I walk. My path grows closer to the center, and then it doubles back again, taking me toward the outside edges where I see a sign telling me that the center of this labyrinth represents God or perfection. As I walk in circles closer to, then farther from the center, God and perfection seem very elusive.
While I walk I reflect on how this labyrinth is like life’s walk. God, perfection, lies at the center of life. As I walk toward God and perfection, my path does not lead directly to Him. I curve, drawing near, then my spiritual path doubles back and I walk away from perfection; I walk away from God. As I meditate, I notice the rocks lining the pathways. Rough and rugged, their presence helps me find my way. None of them is extremely large; each is about the size of my hand.

I wonder about the person who placed these rocks in their concentric circles. Although each is small, carrying hundreds of them would be an enormous task! Walking back and forth, lifting, stooping to place each rock on its curved path, standing, lifting more rocks, bending again to place them, an arduous task indeed!

As I near the center of the labyrinth, I recognize the symbolism of the jagged rocks lining the pathway. Each represents my sins. As I walk toward the center of the labyrinth, toward perfection, toward God, I must drop the burdens of my sins. One by one Jesus forgives my sins, allowing me to drop their weight from my soul. As they thud into the dirt, Jesus reaches down with rough, worn hands. He picks up my sins, and places them in rows. These rocks are not placed to remind and judge me, no! They are placed to show me where to place my feet, where to walk next. As I drop my sins, thinking of the grace that allows their weight to fall from my soul guides me ever closer to God. Occasionally I turn around, but Jesus’ gentle reminder that my sin is forgiven and forgotten turns me once again toward my goal, walking toward God. The way isn’t straight, the way isn’t brief, but the way is provided. The way is Jesus.

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