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. Find where labyrinths are in your area at the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.
This was the first labyrinth I walked since returning from my “Labyrinth Trek” in October. It’s the first day of the year 2020, and I thought that walking a labyrinth would be a good way to ring in the new year. I intended to simply decide among the ones in my area, ones I’d already walked several times. But I was surprised to find that there is a new labyrinth just a half hour drive away, completed just four months ago!
I drove to Easton, and found the western terminus of the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. I wasn’t sure where the labyrinth was along the trail, so I decided just to walk the whole thing. It’s a really nice, well-paved trail that snakes through Easton. At some parts you could forget you’re in a city; and at other parts the trail actually goes along city sidewalks. All along the trail are art installations, such as sculptures and paintings, structures and musical formations. I highly recommend it if you happen to be in or near eastern Pennsylvania.
On my return walk, I approached the labyrinth to apprehend it. It’s a 6-circuit modified classical path. The path is red gravel, and the walls are varied fist-sized rocks. As I entered, the question I asked was: What can I focus on this year that would be fruitful? I had originally thought of the question, “What should I focus on this year?” But I decided I didn’t want any should language in it. That’s always a judgmental place to start, looking for mistakes and missteps. But this phrasing felt good: What can I focus on this year that would be fruitful?
I started to walk, and some things quickly fell off the list. Video games? Fun, but not fruitful. Watching the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe? Fun, but not fruitful. I might do those things this year, but I don’t want them to be a focus. Some possibilities that went through my mind were: church… writing… Darkwater… family… I was thinking about how I just don’t know how to properly market my writing — both of my blogs have such low traffic, and I am skeptical that my book will sell copies beyond my friends and family. And then suddenly a family arrived. A family of six, I think. A mom, a dad, a grandmother, and three kids. (Or at least that’s how it appeared.) They started to walk the labyrinth right behind me. The kids were all over the place, two of them jumping across the walls of the labyrinth, the third walking right behind me, not passing, even if I slowed down. And they were all noisy. The parents were a little better, but they still didn’t understand labyrinth ettiquette at all. As they walked the path, they talked to their kids constantly. “No, go this way!” “Follow the path!” “That’s right!” When I got to the center, I stood there, staring at the rock in the middle. The kids arrived behind me, followed by the mother and the father. When the father reached the center, he said, “Okay! We made it! Let’s go!” And they all walked out of the labyrinth, not along the path, just stepping over the walls to reach the outside. I just stood there in the center, trying my best to ignore them. I said nothing, made no eye contact, just tried to keep focused on what I was doing. To the credit of the family, they said nothing to me either. It was almost as though we were walking this labyrinth in parallel, as though we were each oblivious to the other’s presence. They weren’t exactly rude — they just didn’t understand labyrinths or labyrinth etiquette.
After they left, I stood there in the center until I felt like it was quiet again. Then I slowly walked out. As I walked, it occurred to me that this is the experience we have in life so often. We have a goal in mind, but are distracted by so many things around us. When the family “invaded” my labyrinth-time, I could have glared at them. I could have tried to politely explain to the parents that this was inappropriate. I could have just walked out and waited until they left to start again. Instead, I kept moving. I kept walking. It was much harder to concentrate and focus, but I was able to do it. They didn’t hurt me. They didn’t prevent me from having a good labyrinth experience. In fact, they may have provided me with the exact thing I needed to learn today:
Just keep doing what you feel is right. Just focus on that, and don’t worry about what other people are doing. I don’t know how to make a living out of writing, and to be honest, I’m not interested in figuring it out. If other people decide to buy my book, or I stumble onto a marketing scheme that makes intuitive sense to me, great. If not, that’s okay too. I make a living out of being a pastor, and that’s fine. I write because I love to, and whatever happens with that happens. So I decided that for this year, my goal is simply to keep writing. Every day, I’m going to write. Some days it will be a blog post like this. Other days it will be a post on Biblia Luna. Other days it’ll be a sermon, or a journal entry, or something else. But I’m going to keep writing, because that’s what I love. That’s my focus. Whatever the chittery chattery families around me choose to do is their decision.