Hidden God, Fading Light: An Afternoon of Labyrinths

In my last blog post, I shared the four labyrinths I walked this morning in the Buffalo, New York region. In the afternoon, I walked another four. These four walks don’t tell a cohesive story in the same way, but I’d still like to tell you about them.

After a nice coffee break at Tim Horton’s (Canada’s answer to Dunkin’ Donuts, which is everywhere in western New York), I went to St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in North Tonawanda. This was my first Chartres-style labyrinth of the day, a 7-circuit. The path is made of stamped concrete, with walls of earth. One neat thing about this labyrinth is that within the center circle is a Luther rose, the unofficial symbol of Lutheranism.

I entered this labyrinth with a question still connected to this morning: “Where was God during the ‘storm’ I faced waiting for a publisher?” I asked God this question as I walked. Where were you during that impatient and heart-wrenching time? I wasn’t asking it from a standpoint of assuming God was absent, but more from a question of “why didn’t I notice you?” The answer I received surprised me.

I felt like God was telling me that every time I submitted a proposal of Darkwater to yet another publisher, that was God pushing me. I was so impatient, so depressed, so upset at times, so sure it would never happen, sometimes wondering if it should, and yet I kept at it. I heard today that that’s precisely where God was, what God was up to.

Perhaps that’s where God is during the storms in our lives. Perhaps during the storms, we can’t see God; only when we look back can we see. But during the storms, God is there, working, working, working. In my case, God was doing what God so often does for me: quietly, firmly, eternally speaking to quiet the Dark Voice, the voice that tells me over and over again how terrible I really am. The reason I never fully gave in is because God was always holding the Dark Voice at bay. No surprise, really. That’s the whole story of Darkwater, after all.

From there I traveled to Clarence Presbyterian Church in Clarence. This was a different experience for me; I actually had to ring the bell and talk to a person. This labyrinth is in a courtyard within the church building. The woman who admitted me was very friendly, and even told me I’m the first person to tell her I found out about the labyrinth from The World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. This was the smallest labyrinth I’d walked in a while, a 4-circuit Cretan, made entirely of inlaid bricks. (The walls are a different color than the path.)

The question I asked was a continuation of the last one: “How can I see God better during the storms?” As I walked, I was sometimes in shade and sometimes in sunlight. And because the bricks are so close in color, I found it a little challenging to see the path in the sunlight; in shade it was easier. I think that was the beginning of my answer.

I heard God telling me: “I am hidden. You can’t see me during the storms, because I am by my nature hidden. But you can see signs of my presence. Remember that you are always, always on the path. You can’t ever leave the path, even if you don’t see it or even remember it. And remember that I am the path. And I am the walls. I take you through places that are not always pleasant, but I never leave you there. When you can see just enough in the darkness, that is my light. When you have just enough faith to get up in the morning, that is my breath. When you have just enough hope, that is me.”

Paul wrote, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.” In this labyrinth, I was reminded that “dim” is not darkness. Dim is light, even if it’s attenuated. The light is always there.

The third labyrinth of the afternoon was at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Alden. This was a monster of a labyrinth, a full 11-circuit Chartres-style. The path was grass, and the walls were marked by a varied assortment of stones and rocks, with a few other things like stone bowls thrown in for good measure. I really liked this labyrinth a lot.

By the time I reached this labyrinth, I felt like I was pretty much done with the book & storm questions. So I pulled another one from the list I came up with last night. I thought about the 10,000 pound marble baptismal font that’s been sitting in my garage for over a year, the very font I was baptized in. (I had the opportunity to “inherit” it after the congregation where I was baptized closed.) So I asked of this labyrinth: “What should I do with my baptismal font?”

Well, I really don’t want to explain it here, not until I’ve had a chance to work out whether it’s really feasible or not, but let me just say that I received an answer. Boy, howdy. I have an idea for what to do with this font. It’s either incredibly stupid or incredibly cool. I have to talk with a few people before determining which it is. If I don’t blog about the font again in the next six months, then that probably means I discerned that it was stupid. Ask me about it then, and I’ll tell you what the idea was.

Anyway, by the time I made it to my final labyrinth of the day, I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. It was at Trinity Episcopal Church in Rochester. It was another Chartres labyrinth, a 7-circuit. (I have never walked so many Chartres labyrinths as I did this afternoon!) Typical materials: grassy path with inlaid bricks as walls.

I was just so tired, and I felt like there wasn’t any question left I could ask today. You can’t tell from the photo, but the sun was also getting rather low in the sky. So I thought maybe I could get a head-start on tomorrow. I asked, “What should I ask about tomorrow?”

I’ve walked a lot of labyrinths with inlaid bricks like this. In many cases, including this one, some of the bricks are engraved with names. I have walked past so many names in labyrinths, and that formed the answer for me. Tomorrow, I’m going to start by asking about people. My relationships with friends and family have not been as strong lately as they used to be. I have let them atrophy, partially because of feeling depressed so often lately. And tomorrow, I’m going to address that.

But just as it felt late four hours ago when I walked that last labyrinth, it feels really late in the motel right now too. So I will write more tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “Hidden God, Fading Light: An Afternoon of Labyrinths

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