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.
The first one was an a Moravian church in Bethlehem. This labyrinth surprised me. At first glance, I saw crushed stone and inlaid brick pavers, and I assumed that the stone was the path, and the pavers the walls. (I’ve certainly walked many labyrinths like that.) But then I noticed that it was the other way around — this was a “standard” 7-circuit classical labyrinth, but here the bricks were the path and the stones were the walls. Right from the start, I was knocked a little bit off kilter.
At several spots in the labyrinth, there were stones with words on them: Happiness, Dream, Hope, and Patience. Right in the middle was a more intricate stone that read Peace.
I entered this oddly inverse labyrinth with the somewhat recursive question: Is asking questions the best way for me to find meaning in my life? I was wondering if perhaps the questioning itself was the most important part, even more than the answers.
As I walked, I thought about how I never have answers, not that last for long anyway. I ask the same questions over and over again, questions about meaning, questions about God and about myself, questions about whether I should live or die — over and over, the same questions come around. I thought about how often I berate myself for forgetting the answers I receive when I ask these questions. Because I do, after all, receive answers to these questions. Or at least, I receive responses, or reflections. I always feel better, or at least I feel something, whenever I explore questions. Maybe that’s the thing. The reason I can never say, “I’m done now. I’ve solved this particular issue for life,” is because for me that answer really never was the solution. Perhaps the solution was the asking, the reflecting, the exploring. That’s why I always keep coming back to such similar questions. No answer ever satisfies, not for long anway, and I always think it should. But maybe the exploration is what satisfies.
And maybe the beauty of walking a labyrinth is that it makes me stretch out the question, dwell with it longer, explore it more slowl. It’s about “living with the questions,” but not in a stoic kind of way, not just accepting the dichotomy. Rather, it’s about living, actively living, with the questions. Playing with them. Poking them. Finding their weak and strong spots.
And maybe I can do that in my life, without always traveling to labyrinths. Maybe I can explore ways to write about questions regularly. Or just have a morning question to dwell with througuot the day. Something to explore.