Labyrinth #69: St. Peter’s Tohickon United Church of Christ, Perkasie, PA

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 is the first of two labyrinths I walked today. I traveled to the Perkasie-Sellersville area, a place I lived for five years. I wanted to walk a few labyrinths today, and I figured that I would head back to another place of nostalgia, since I’d made two major nostalgic pilgrimages already this month. (Read about the first, and the second.) Nostalgia wasn’t the primary reason for the trip, but it certainly affected my choice of locations.

The first one was at St. Peter’s Tohickon UCC, out in the country not far from Lake Nockamixon. I didn’t really have any connection to this church, but I do have many fond memories of hiking, boating, and letterboxing at the lake. St. Peter’s has a “Memorial Peace Garden,” and the labyrinth is part of it.

The Peace Garden was rather unkempt, but that seemed appropriate for late December. It was resting, and I’m sure it will be beautiful when the spring comes. The labyrinth surprised me. A classical 7-circuit, it’s made completely of grass — the paths are mown and the walls are taller. This kind of labyrinth disappears so easily. Miss a few mowings, and the path just disappears. Yet even now, at the beginning of winter, the path was very clear to see.

It was a chilly day, but not cold. It was nice to walk it. There was a little bit of ice here and there on the grass that would crunch under my feet. Because of the way I’d been retracing my life’s footsteps lately, traveling to Minersville and then St. Johns, and now Perkasie, the question that I asked at the labyrinth was this:

With all my nostalgia lately, where am I breaking new ground?

I thought about not only my road trips, but also all the ways I’ve been focusing on Darkwater lately, which is course a book that’s all about my own past. I was wondering if I was doing that too much, just staring at my own navel over and over again. Just stagnating.

The answer I received in the labyrinth was much more positive. First off, I thought, my life’s journey is more like a labyrinth than a straight line. I travel over the same ground over and over, much like walking a labyrinth, but each time I’m on a different track. Each time, I’m looking at it in a new way, adding a new layer. This is no surprise to me (nor to anyone who knows me well), but it’s comforting to hear that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes I wonder if it is. But no — that’s just the way I’m wired, the way I’m made.

And what am I doing now that’s new? How am I breaking new ground? Well, that’s actually easier to identify than I thought: I’m podcasting! I’m recording an audiobook! I’m talking more openly about the importance of stories in faith! Maybe most of this stuff isn’t adding more content, but it’s exploring new media, new styles, new twists to the path.

I wondered if maybe part of my worry about whether I’m stagnating is because I’ve lived in the same place now for over ten years, something I haven’t done since childhood. So maybe geographically, I’ve been still for a lot longer than usual. But there is a lot of newness in this still place, such as the way I do my job and the way I talk about Darkwater. And a lot of that newness comes through writing, whether blogging or writing my newsletter or journaling. Every word I write is new. Every word brings the crystal a new facet. Every word is another step on the labyrinthine path.

I’ll write about the other labyrinth I visited soon.

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