I had some time between appointments in Monroe County, so I made the time to visit an old friend, the labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mt. Pocono. I had walked this labyrinth several times before, most memorably during a rough time when discerning whether or not to leave my previous congregation to become the pastor where I am now. I had fond memories of sitting at the center of this labyrinth, wrestling with God’s will for me.
Trinity sits next to a very large wooded area…I assume that the church owns a good deal of the woods. They have done wonderful things with these woods. There are paths you can walk that trace Stations of the Cross, and the labyrinth is a short walk from the parking lot along one of these paths. A kiosk helpfully marks the walk, with a sign of blessing for the labyrinth.
I like this labyrinth a lot. It’s a pretty standard 7-circuit classical design, with walls made of (what I assume are) local rocks. There are some trees within the labyrinth, and they join the rocks in forming the walls…it’s really quite nice. (You can clearly see one such tree about 1/3 from the right in the featured image.) One feature I love about this labyrinth is the center. A large tree stands tall in the center, and a circular bench has been built around it.
It’s nice to sit on the bench, and I also enjoy continuing to walk at the center of this labyrinth, repeatedly circling the bench, as it’s really a very spacious center.
So I went to the labyrinth without much of a question in mind. My reason for walking was mostly convenience (an hour between appointments) rather than a perceived need for a spiritual walk. As I approached, I thought perhaps I’d ask, “What should I be working on in these last few weeks before I return to work?” Sounded like a good plan. But as I stood at the entrance, I felt a strong pull to ask instead, “What is my true calling?” I didn’t know where this had come from; perhaps it was the emotions I felt having had career questions at this labyrinth before. But I said, “Okay. If that’s a better question, fine. What is my true calling?”
As I walked, I considered what this meant. I didn’t think it was about a career change, but rather a sense of how to be the pastor I am. As I ponder returning to the office in a few weeks, how might I hold myself? How might I perform my duties? Some ideas floated in and out of my head as I walked, and I received a rather clear answer while walking in the center: I am a mapreader and mapmaker. That is how I am called to lead. That is how I am called to guide people. I have been given gifts of being able to discern paths that we’ve taken before, paths that we’re currently on, and paths that might lead someplace helpful. I have gifts of being able to help people discern what their options are, what directions they might go, how they might be able to reach their goals. I can interpret the world around me, interpret the actions of people, interpret the words of scripture, interpret the whirls of the Spirit. Not perfectly, but well enough to be able to draw up something of a “map” that I, or someone else, might use.
That seems to be a good direction to go with my ministry. To not focus so much on leading people to a certain place, but on guiding them, helping them to follow the path that’s already there. Provide them with a map for that place. I like that.