Lao Tzu is quoted as saying, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” One step forward is a commitment in direction. We might know something about what lies ahead in that direction, but more often than not, faithfulness in our steps will lead to twists and turns, change, surprise, and often great risk. We are moved on the inside by steps we take on the outside. Life becomes for us a pilgrimage of one step at a time with the light of God we trust to guide our way. The hope is that our steps remind us that there is a love that we don’t just find, but a love that we learn to live. Lived love is the goal, but it grows from a journey in life, that at every turn begins with a single new step.
Many have described a labyrinth to emulate the pilgrimage of life. To take the first step into a labyrinth is a commitment to walking it through to the end. Sure, you can turn around and come back, but once inside, most want to see their walk through. Labyrinths are used today as a tool for personal transformation and in the Christian tradition, those who walk labyrinths hope for a deep spiritual transformation. There is a labyrinth at the Urban Park in Cape Town. As one steps into what looks like a maze, there can be peace for knowing that there is only one way in and one way out. The very path that guides you into the center of the labyrinth, is the very same path that will take you out.
A couple weeks ago, I visited the labyrinth in the urban park. I walked around it looking at it first before I entered in. Once inside, I found myself walking the way my grandfather taught me when I was a little girl. My grandfather was a Cree Indian. He used to tell me to walk softly, letting my feet slowly roll onto the ground, so that I would avoid striking my heels at Mother Earth damaging her spirit. I walked very slowly and intentionally and once I found the center I sat “Indian style” in the middle very quietly for a long, long time. The experience was holy for me for so many reasons. I felt like I was in the center of everything that is good in the world, for I found a deep resting peace in that place.
I walked the labyrinth several times, each time slower and slower, pausing at each marked turn. The last time through I realized that without my knowing it, a young boy had found his way there and was following me through. When I saw him I smiled, for he must have been watching me walk the way my grandfather taught me, for his feet were gently touching the ground and rolling down, rather than harshly hitting the earth. Maybe his grandfather taught him that, but something in me thinks he was watching me walk before he decided to enter in. As I reached the center the last time, I tried to think of something that would be an act I could do to help the boy receive the gift of peace as deeply as possible, so I wrapped my arms around myself in a hug, stood still, and bowed my head acknowledging God.
On the outside of the labyrinth at the Urban Park, there are finger labyrinths with wheel chair access. I sat down to look at one while the boy was completing his turns. As he drew to the center, he wrapped his arms around himself in a hug, stood still, and bowed. It is quite something to realize that the steps we take are on a pathway that others will follow behind on. Go lightly, thoughtfully, and intentionally this week thinking periodically about your steps and where they lead. Consider visiting a labyrinth, but most importantly … breathe.
With you on the journey,
Online resources from labyrinth society:
Finger labyrinth: https://zdi1.zd-cms.com/cms/res/files/382/ChartresLabyrinth.pdf
Children’s activities: https://labyrinthsociety.org/activities-for-kids