Emmaus Labyrinth #63: Hopewell United Methodist Church, Downingtown, PA

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 an excellent labyrinth in the cemetery across from Hopewell United Methodist Church. It’s a seven-circuit medieval, with walls and path of bricks in different colors. It’s located between two columbaria, which gives it a very tranquil and holy feel. (Although all labyrinths are tranquil and holy, I suppose.)

It was mid-morning on a Sunday when I arrived here. I didn’t know before arriving that the labyrinth was actually across the street from the church building, in the cemetery. I was assuming that it was adjacent to the church itself. So while I was heading there, I was anxious about meeting people in the parking lot who were heading into worship. I didn’t want to try to explain to them that I wouldn’t be worshiping with them, but rather was just looking for their labyrinth. I felt guilty, like I was taking advantage of them. But I also really didn’t want to worship with them that morning – that’s not why I was there.

It was an annoying yet familiar feeling. I just didn’t want to talk to people — I didn’t want to try to explain to them why I was doing something odd. I felt awkward, like it would just lead to more questions. “If you just want to walk the labyrinth, why not come at a different time?” “Well, because I’m on a journey to walk a bunch of labyrinths.” That would actually be a great answer! But somehow I couldn’t do that. I didn’t feel like I could be bold the way I can be afterward, on these blogs.

So the question that was on my mind as I entered the labyrinth was, “What keeps me from full-throated praise?” You know, why am I not constantly praising God for all God has done for me?

The answer wasn’t long in coming, nor was it surprising.

I’m so stuck inside myself, so worried about things, so worried about what other people think and about being consistent. So worried, and I look down instead of up. It reminded me of the Emmaus Road image that I am carrying on this whole journey. The way that I needed to “undo the hook” in that image that connected my head to my heart. It reminds me of the gospel reading that is being read in so many churches today: the story of Martha and Mary, how Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” I am so distracted and worried about so much. There is need of only one thing, and it will not be taken away from me. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all this will be given to you as well.

Same message I’ve heard so many times in so many ways. Same message I need to hear so many times. Trust. Trust in God, and all will be well.

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