I recently had the gift of 24 hours away with some friends at Launde Abbey near East Norton. In the beautiful grounds there are two labyrinths, one cut into the grass and one in the wooded area. A labyrinth is a pattern of pathways that weave around a central point.
You walk through the pathways to get to the centre a bit like a maze, but there is only one way in and one way out – so you don’t need to worry about getting lost, or where you are going; you can just focus on the journey.
Although labyrinths have ancient roots in spirituality and have been used by people of diverse cultures and religions for centuries, they can be a valuable way for any of us to slow down and reflect on our life’s journey. You don’t even have to go to where one has been set out, you can draw your own on a piece of paper and use your finger to trace the path.
Sometimes I use a labyrinth to reflect on my journey with God, and other times to focus on what is happening in my life as I wind my way to the centre. The centre might be seen as our goal, but often it is in the journeying that we discover more about ourselves than in the destination.
As we walk the labyrinth it can sometimes feel as though we are going round in circles, getting no closer to the centre. Occasionally it can seem as though the path is heading straight towards the centre, but then it twists or turns and we can find ourselves heading
away from it, as if we are losing ground, but nonetheless knowing that the centre is still there.
Sometimes there can be obstacles across the path and we have to stop and work out how we might get over or round them. Or we might get distracted by something interesting and pause in our journey as we follow that thought through. On the journey we might pick something up to take with us, to represent how we are feeling or the journey itself. When we finally reach the centre it is often a place of calm, a place to reflect, to think, to leave behind any burdens we might have been carrying with us, feeling lighter than when we entered.
It seems to me that life is often more like a labyrinth than a journey from A to B. Today, whether the path ahead of you is clear and straight or full of obstacles and twisting off in a different direction, I hope that you have space to pause and find the stillness of the centre you are heading towards, perhaps counting your blessings or seeking courage for what is ahead.