Emmaus Labyrinth #60: Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick, MD.

This is one of a series of posts about a trip I took to walk labyrinths in July 2022. See this post to see why I refer to these labyrinths as my “Emmaus labyrinths.” Note: the numbering refers not to how many labyrinths I walked on this trip, but to the total number I’ve blogged about so far.

This is a 9-circuit original pattern (kind of medieval, I think) at the UU of Frederick. Much like the previous one I walked, the walls are inlaid bricks, and the path is grass. This was my ninth labyrinth of the day, it was again hot and sunny, it was late in the afternoon, and I was getting tired. So I asked the question: “What do I need to hear when I’m tired?”

It took a while, listening and trying out sentences I thought I heard, and I finally reached this sentence: I deserve to have good rest. I nodded, thought that sounded pretty good. I tried it out in my mouth a few times: “I deserve good rest. I deserve good rest.”

Then I stopped in my tracks, and reacted. I said to myself: Did I just say “deserve”?

Now, I have had a very complicated relationship with the word “deserve” for a long time now. I find it incredibly hard to accept that I deserve anything good. Yes, I need things; yes, I want things; yes, I have been given great things. But deserve them? Hardly. Whenever I hear the word “deserve” used, particularly in regards to myself, I have a very strong physical reaction. I’ve started to work on this with both my therapist and my spiritual director, and we haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet. But it’s there. For some reason, I react very negatively to the thought that I deserve things.

However, right at the moment I was walking in the labyrinth, I was too tired to put up an argument against the word “deserve.” I just accepted it. Fine. I deserve to have good rest. Interesting — right when I’m too tired to argue this point, that’s when I need to hear it. Maybe that’s the only time I can hear it. And maybe if I hear it every time I’m tired, maybe over time it will wear down my defenses against that word, and maybe I can eventually hear “deserve” more rationally in general. Interesting.

And good rest? Well, I guess that means rest that fills me, rather than drains me more. Rest that gets me ready to do more later. Rest that doesn’t get me stuck in a loop, but rather prepares me for action again. This was the end of the day for me — I deserved some good rest.

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