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 am in the habit of trying to visit a lot of them. For more information about labyrinths, check out The Labyrinth Society.
In my last labyrinth post, I mentioned that I made a decision to drive to another nearby labyrinth, and walk it too. This is that labyrinth. A friend recommended it to me. It’s on the grounds of a United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation in Chalfont.
It’s a very simple, five-circuit classical labyrinth, with walls made of pavers creating a grassy path. It’s not showy at all — in fact, it’s all but invisible until you actually reach it.
All of the pavers that make the innermost circle, as well as some of those around the perimeter, have words on them; I assume they were used as a fundraiser to pay for the construction.
I entered this labyrinth with a surprising thought on my mind: seemingly out of nowhere, I asked, “How can I let go of caring what other people think about me?” It was an interesting walk. The first thought that came to my mind involved the fact that I was back in Bucks County, a place where I lived for five years while serving as Director of Christian Education for a church there. I cared quite a bit at the time what everyone at that church thought of me, but now, twelve years after leaving there, I find I really don’t care if anyone there disliked me or not. (Now I care what the folks at my current church think of me.) So one way to stop caring about that is to just leave. Which led me to think about relationships. I don’t need to care about what people think of me if I don’t have a relationship with them. Those people with whom I have a relationship — I can continue to work on it with them. It’s those I don’t — they’re the ones that drive me nuts, because I just don’t know what to do, how to fix it. And then I saw one of the challenges of being in the position I’m in as a pastor: I have a pastoral relationship with everyone in the congregation, but I do not have a personal relationship with many of them. And I got a glimpse that said, “You don’t need to get upset about what people think about you in a pastoral relationship. Just deal with them from that standpoint.” There’s deeper stuff going on that I’m not going to get into here, partially because it’s not yet all worked out in my head. But this seemed like a wonderful start of an epiphany.
Thanks, Pleasantville UCC!