Saturday, July 6, 2013

In the Center of the Labyrinth

Last Wednesday the brothers hosted a labyrinth walk at Little Portion. It was great to be here for it. The weather was beautiful, there was a good crowd. What was most important for me was the sense of an on-going ministry. I built the labyrinth 15 years ago, and people are still coming to visit it, finding it helpful. I had a feeling of almost parental pride, as much as I know anything about that. I never thought it would last so long. When we built it we had the idea that we'd missed the moment for labyrinths, that they were passing out of fashion. So we used wood chips to pave the paths, telling ourselves that it would grow over quickly if we wanted to allow that. The labyrinth was an experiment.

What we have discovered is that people still appreciate it. As I walked it, I found myself contemplating all the journeys I have taken in the last several years. I am often asked how I find "life on the move." I think all itinerant people have their ways of coping. For me, the most helpful thing is the constancy of prayer, and the familiar thread of our Office Book which allows me to feel connected with the other brothers and sisters around the world who use it. We are all basically on the same page on the same days--the international dateline notwithstanding. The labyrinth has helped me to pay attention to how I develop a contemplative perspective on my life--learning to stay the course, walking the path and being as present as possible to the events and emotions that surface for me. Sometimes I am gobsmacked by joy, other times I cringe with embarrassment. But when I can suspend the inner critic and accept the memory, forgive myself and if necessary resolve to forgive others, then I can move on. Eventually there is a time of connection: a deep and honest conversation, or a laugh shared with a friend that comes from deep within and sets me free from many petty concerns. Knowing people, being with them, puts the petty aggravations of travel into perspective. that is what I call a contemplative perspective--trying to see life from a larger perspective, to remember what is important.

So, after three weeks at Little Portion, I am packing to go to Papua New Guinea, where the brothers have prepared an itinerary for me that will take me up and down that country. I've been to all the places and know what to expect--the unexpected! I am looking forward to seeing them all again, hearing about their lives and ministries, sharing their foods.