I enjoy walking labyrinths. Labyrinths are maze-like structures that have been used as spiritual tools for centuries. There are many of them around, and I have started the habit of trying to visit them, perhaps once a week. For more information on labyrinths, check out The Labyrinth Society.
This morning, I set out on my daily routine a little early to have time to stop at the labyrinth at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hecktown, PA. I’ve been to this church before…my son’s godmother grew up here. My kids have been here several times to have “Breakfast with Santa.” I didn’t know they had a labyrinth…it’s a hidden treasure. When I pulled in this morning, I couldn’t see it anywhere. Thankfully, its location was explained very well on its entry on the Labyrinth Society’s labyrinth finder.
It’s a rather small, simple labyrinth, with four circuits. One thing that’s unique about 3- and 4-circuit labyrinths is that when walking them, you are always walking in. The more traditional 7-circuit labyrinth plays games with your mind, because as you walk the path, you can feel like you’re getting closer and closer to the center, only to find that you are suddenly heading back to the outermost ring. With this labyrinth, however, there are no such “switchbacks.” It’s more straightforward, which gives a sense of constant progress.
The walls of this labyrinth are made of bricks embedded in the grass. At each “terminus” of a wall, there is a stone with a word on it. They read: “2012”, “FAITH”, “HOPE”, and “LOVE.”
These are likely a reference to 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” And I would assume that 2012 reflects the year in which the labyrinth was constructed. At the center of the labyrinth is a 3/4 circle made of bricks surrounding a stone that reads “TRINITY.”
This center stone, on one level, reflects the name of the congregation who constructed the labyrinth. It also represents the name of God in the Christian faith: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I walked this labyrinth this morning with my mind on some therapy work I’d done lately, in particular an insight I’d had regarding how I react to authority figures. I asked God for some further insight as I work on this issue. Because of the style of this labyrinth, the walk to the center was shorter than I was used to. I didn’t receive any great insights, but that’s when I first noticed the word in the center. TRINITY almost shouted out at me, as I stood in the empty quadrant of the radiant circle surrounding it. A thought occurred to me: “Do I react to God the same way I react to human authority figures?” And if so, what does that mean? It’s an unanswered question for me today…I have more work to do on it. I think it’s a question I will talk about with my spiritual director at our next meeting.
This simple labyrinth provided me with a simple question to enhance the work I’m doing right now. It feels like a symbol of the relationships I have with my therapist and my spiritual director. My therapist assists me in the work I’m doing right now to unearth some brainstuff, and figure out what it means for me going forward. My spiritual director asks me some simple, yet very powerful, questions that enhance that work, adding the God-dimension to it. I’m so grateful I have them both right now. And so grateful for this labyrinth.