I have driven by this spot sometimes three or four days a week for many months but finally about one month ago I noticed that there is a labyrinth at the First Baptist Church of Syracuse/
labyrinth is a sacred symbol that differs from a maze. A maze has many false starts, blind paths and false paths to get through it. A maze requires your left brain (the one our culture tests, values and forces us to use – logical, verbal and mathematical. A labyrinth is a continuous path that leads to the center and then back out again. There are several kinds of labyrinths based on geometry. A labyrinth is more of right brained activity it is based on creativity and intuition. The purpose of walking a labyrinth is to metaphorically walk a spiritual path. It is a internal journey in which you seek to commune with the One Universe. Or God. Or yourself.
I walked at my favorite park. It was cold and windy but the woods and deep potholes (the natural kind not the man made kind) kept the wind from me but it was a chilly walk. On the way home I stopped at the labyrinth and slowly traversed the path. Many years ago when I was reading about all things metaphysical, I read about labyrinths and was intrigued. But I have never walked one until yesterday. I thought about the mind I work on while in meditation and focused on my breathing taking one small step at a time. Occasionally I would look up and see the dog’s white nose strip in the dark interior of my car. I found myself thinking of the labyrinth as a metaphor for the brain. It looks like a brain. At one point in the path I found myself almost reliving a memory from college that was so pure, was a strange sensation and then as I walked another turn it faded. In, Out, Deep, Slow, Calm, Ease, Smile, Release. At the center I turned and faced the four directions. I found myself irritated at the cross on the western direction. And the church at the eastern direction, but accepted it and embraced it because they had built it afterall.
The labyrinth is a symbol of the path we are on, how we are just here, right where we are meant to be. That all is exactly as it should be. I go back to one of my favorite poems by Rumi
here is a part of the poem Emptiness:
“We look back and analyze the events
of our lives, but there is another way
of seeing, a backward and forward at once
vision, that is not rationally understandable.
Only God can understand it.
Satan made the excuse, You caused me to fall.
Whereas Adam said to God, We did this
to ourselves, After this repentance,
God asked Adam, Since all is within
my foreknowledge, why didn’t you
defend yourself with that reason?
Adam answered, I was afraid,
And I wanted to be reverent.”
I walked the labyrinth. I was so cold as the snow began to fall. My feet kicking up leaves along the edge of the path. I saw the stones like stars in the sky. I picked up a rock of shining obsidian and stroked it in my fingers. When I got to the end and was ready to leave. I looked down and saw in my hand an ordinary grey stone. Inside the labyrinth I am shining and perfect, but outside in the maze of the world. I am ordinary. It took hours for me to be warm again. But I still wore a smile.