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.
I’m on a trip with my daughter to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to see the total eclipse of the sun. She was kind enough to agree to a stop at a labyrinth in Hagerstown, Maryland. It was a pretty simple labyrinth, but a bit oddly shaped, so that it’s kind of hard to tell just how many circuits it has. I think it’s five. Anyway, it’s another subtle one — we almost missed it, since it’s a grassy path walled by bricks flush with the ground. There’s a beautiful image of a torch as you enter it.
My daughter entered the labyrinth first. A bouncy 8-year-old, she loves walking labyrinths with me, but just basically walks around them quickly, and stays silent because “she’s supposed to.” When she had been in a minute or so, I entered with the question, “How can I spend this trip without getting upset about politics?” If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that recent events have upset and distressed me. (As they have many others, of course.) But I really want this trip to be about two things: spending good time with my daughter, and experiencing the awe-inspiring sight of a total solar eclipse. As I walked around, the answer came surprisingly quickly. I had forgotten, you see, that when my daughter and I walk a labyrinth together, she always wants to high-five me as we pass each other (which happens quite a few times). As we shared this quiet ritual, it was so obvious to me that the way I can keep my cool regarding politics is to pay attention to her instead. She has no idea what happened in Charlottesville, nor should she. She has no idea what the president has been saying lately, nor should she. She just wants to play, and see the eclipse, and use her Kindle. She and I have had an excellent first day together, actually. And if I keep focusing on her, like the good father I know I can be, it’ll be equally good for me.
Here she is waiting for me to finish my walk through the labyrinth. She knows. On some level she knows how much I need her grace to remind me to find my own.