I was on a day long retreat at a beautiful retreat center with my Bible study friends recently. During our personal reflection time, I ventured out to the labyrinth. My instinct and desire was to go through the wooded beauty with the peak fall color, but I stopped myself. I needed to do something out of the norm. Yes, the lake and trees were calling and I am there now to write, but the discipline to shake things up was calling just a little louder. I was hoping this new experience would take me away from the familiar and heighten my senses to what God might want to say to me.
What did I see and hear?
I was the only one in that area of the property, an expanse was beyond the labyrinth. The sky was blue with bright sunshine and a sprinkling of small scattered clouds. The wind blew gently but steadily. I felt as if I was alone in the world with God on this journey. I could visualize myself from above as if from an aerial view. I was walking the path of life one step at a time looking down to see the path before me, then looking up to take in my surroundings. A wind chime interrupted my silent journey, but in a good way. The sound was pleasant and welcoming, so much so that I took a selfie with it in the background with the sunlight captured over my shoulder brilliant and bright. The rays, each distinguishable in the photo as a beautiful gift of God’s light shining down on me.
As I followed the path of the labyrinth, I was drawn to notice several metaphors along the way, stopping to capture each in a photo to help me remember. The path was mowed with prairie grasses and other plants lining the way. Being mid—October, the grasses were mostly hay like with a hint of red on some of the stalks and plumes of seeds on others. The stalks with the plumes were a good 4 feet high and I noticed them swaying in the breeze. Some blew across the path to greet me. Others blew away from me. A few were bent low along the path in front of me and a couple were cracked and the plume hanging on by a thread. Young sumac was scattered here and there with its vivid red of autumn.
Then there were the twists and turns of the labyrinth’s path. I found myself thinking, “Oh surely this next turn will have me at the center”, only to find that I was further away than I thought. How could this be? The journey was taking much longer than I had anticipated. The temptation to hop over the high grassy border into the next path over was strong. Should I do it? What would I miss if I did? I stuck to the path for a while longer, but as my time was running short I did succumb and stepped over one row only to find I was much closer to the exit than the center! Hmmm?
What message could God be sharing with me on this journey with so many things catching my eye?
As I reflect on the grasses and their plumes moving with the breeze these thoughts came to mind. The tall stalks that blew toward me and away from me may represent the people I cross paths with in my life. Some I am meant to engage with and others maybe not for reasons unknown to me. Or perhaps those very same stalks could represent the opportunities that are meant for me or not. Am I to pursue the things that are apparent and in viewing distance and readily available? Or am I to venture into the more unknown and elusive that are more hidden? What about the ones that are no longer swaying in the breeze but cracked or strewn across the path? Could they represent lost opportunities, missed opportunities? Or could they represent things that are not worth my time anymore? On the labyrinth’s path I stepped on or around them as if dismissing them. What else do I dismiss in my life knowingly? Unknowingly?
As for my hopping over the grassy border, what did I miss by not fully completing the journey? What do I miss regularly by taking short cuts? So much for me to ponder and perhaps an invitation to finish the journey that God placed before me.