Labyrinth #72: Orchard Hill Center, Skillman, 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 is a seven-circuit classical labyrinth in a large field at the Orchard Hill Center. The path is simply grass, and the walls are various rocks; I would guess they were found locally. The labyrinth was kind of a mess the day I walked it, though. The field around it was mown, so somebody was responsible for caretaking. But the labyrinth was unkempt. Weeds and wildflowers grew wild in it. Loads of dandelions, crab grass, and more. It took me a few moments to find the entrance, because a huge section was covered with a purple-grey-flowered ground cover.

The question I brought into this labyrinth was an outgrowth from my last one. In that labyrinth, I had received insight that I should reach out and ask for help with a number of projects I’m working on, to start practicing my writing side-career as more of an interactive experience. I suppose it was predictable that the Dark Voice inside me would react to that plan, and push against it. As I was driving from St. Joseph’s to Orchard Hill Center, I started to wonder: “Is it really worth all that trouble? Am I really worth all that trouble?” The obvious answer to that rhetorical question was, “No, of course not.” I knew I could try to push against the Dark Voice in the car, but I decided to let the labyrinth be our meeting place.

So, I finally found the entrance to the labyrinth amid the purple flowers, and entered in, wading through the ankle-deep (and in some places knee-deep) growth, with this question on my lips:

Is reaching out work the trouble? Am I worth it?

As I walked through, I thought of this labyrinth as an image of myself: what a mess it is. Who would want to walk this? Indeed, I’m not worth it. If I would just get my act together, stop being such a disaster, then people would find me worthwhile. But not now.

And yet – I continued, and found that it was a joy to walk it – it was well worth it! For one thing, it was beautiful. The chaos and mess here had a beauty to it that wouldn’t be here if it had been mown. And what’s more, the path was clear. I’d walked unkempt labyrinths in the past which had deteriorated to the point that it was hard to even see the path clearly. But this one had a pristine structure. I could see the rocks clearly through the weeds in most places. And in those places where the groundcover obscured the walls, it was easy, thanks to a combination of my muscle memory of walking seven-circuit labyrinths and the sensation of the rocks under my feet. And those were the prettiest spots anyway.

And I started to see how this labyrinth still did represent me. Yes, I’m a mess. Holy crow am I a mess inside. But I’m still worth it. And my mess has beauty in it, not despite the mess, but in fact because of it! So much of my writing, including Darkwater, is proof of that! My foundation, my structure, is strong. If I allow people into my life, they’re not going to get lost or overwhelmed. And in the center of the labyrinth is a rock, a big, solid, energetic rock. And that is the light of God that shines from within me.

I looked around – yes, this was a very beautiful mess of a labyrinth, and I was so happy to be walking it. That’s perhaps like me. Maybe I’m not for everybody – relating to me will mean you’ll have to wade through some weeds, and that might be an acquired taste. But I’m worth it if you take the time. Yes, I’m worth it, and asking people for help right now is kind of like asking them to take a walk with me in here. I don’t need to clean it up first, just appreciate it for its beauty. My brain is a mess, but it’s beautiful.

I don’t need to be fixed. I need to keep noticing and finding the beauty in my brokenness. The birds and the wind chimes I hear now agree, and they sing in harmony.

Watch for your opportunity to answer these questions, in just a few days. Be part of the conversation!

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