Labyrinth #71: St. Joseph’s Parish, Hillsborough, NJ

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 beautiful labyrinth is an 11-circuit Chartres replica, with a gravel path and brick walls. It is located in a large field off the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. Nearby are several crosses on a small hill – these are part of a series of Stations of the Cross. It seems to me that this is a congregation that appreciates spirituality and art. I arrived there on a Sunday morning, a day I was on vacation from my own church vocation. It was interesting to drive in there at the same time as many people who were arriving for mass. They all headed into the church building, and I meandered over to the labyrinth. We were all searching for faith and wisdom in our own ways, I suppose, but I was on a slightly different path than the others.

In fact, what I was looking for was some direction on my own path. During this vacation, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to “reboot” myself. I’ve tried to revitalize my “rhythm of resilience,” the collection of habits and routines I do daily to keep myself spiritually and emotionally healthy. I’ve dived into the Enneagram, trying to discern where I fall on its intricate framework, and what it might mean for my self-understanding and my rituals of self-care. I’ve started working with Dr. Christine Sauer on a new project on faith and mental health that will hopefully bear fruit this fall. I’ve started to consider what my next book might be about – and I’ve been giving some thought to writing about labyrinths, and how they influence my life and my spiritual understanding.

Lots of new things, fun things, exciting things. But my vacation ends in two days, and I wanted to make sure that I could continue to work on these things even when back to the normal grind. So my question was this:

What do I focus on? How do I hold all this together right now? How do I keep this from being just a mountaintop experience? How can I make this sustainable?

It was a long walk, as Chartres labyrinths always are. Eleven circuits can take a while to traverse. But along the way, the answer came quickly and simply: “ask for help.” It was a really broad question, after all, so the answer was just as broad. “Find others who can help with this.”

Along the walk, I pondered what sort of questions I could ask. I could ask readers of my blog what they appreciate about my labyrinth posts, what they find most meaningful or fascinating. What questions they have, and what might interest them in buying a book I’d write about labyrinths. I could ask an open-ended question about the Enneagram – instead of trying to teach people about the very little knowledge I currently have about it, I could ask if anyone else has any experience, and where they fall on the chart. I could ask about what people would look for in a podcast or video series about faith and mental health.

I thought about my current blog, newsletter, and social media footprint, and my dissatisfaction with how it all looks and feels right now. I have never known what to do about that – well, I could ask if anyone has any suggestions.

It’s funny – I had been thinking that I was the one providing the resources and wisdom, that I was the expert sharing my insight. But I’m no expert in any of this. I’m just somebody with some skill at looking deep inside and writing about what I find. Perhaps it would be most helpful for all of us, my readers and me, if I ask for help.

Asking for help would achieve a few things – it will help me identify what people want or need. And it will give people a chance to feel needed. And it will improve my networking. And it will make me feel connected with others, something I really need. And it will provide some accountability for the tasks and projects I choose to work on. And it will provide me with surprises.

So yeah – that’s something to work on in the next few days. How, when, and whom do I ask? And what do I ask for?

Watch for your opportunity to answer these questions over the next few days. I’ll be posting two more labyrinth journeys first, and then will come the questions. Please consider being part of the conversation!

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