February 24 - Labyrinths as a Metaphor for Cycles and Journeys
A labyrinth is a single path, winding to the center and back out again. It is not a maze. It can be a tool for meditation or a metaphor for our life journeys. The labyrinths found in churches were also a symbol for pilgrimage. When people were unable to travel to make a pilgrimage, they might walk the labyrinth as a symbolic act of pilgrimage.
The circles of the various labyrinth paths are what interest me most today.
I recently read a book of practices published by Emergence Magazine. One practice that stood out to me was “Arriving with Every Step" written by Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder. She offers a practice for being present to your journey. This could be a walk to a nearby park or a further expedition to see something new; in either case she encourages an approach to walking as if to a holy site. She writes, “A common pilgrimage practice is circumambulation: to move in a circle around something so that it becomes a sacred center, an axis Mundi.”
This feels similar to advice I heard in an interview recently. The speaker recommended approaching something new as a kind of courtship. They described this practice as a slow circling to get to know something from all sides but also from a respectful distance. This involves not only getting to know a subject but seeing it in relationships to materials, spaces, people, and practices. I find it helpful to remember this in this time of physical distancing. While I may be unable to pursue some of my goals directly, there are related paths and interests I might investigate.
Today, I invite you to explore spirals and labyrinths as a map for another way of getting to know something, a symbol for the journey of exploration and return. As Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder writes, “The journey is a practice, a prayer, a seeking. Arriving back home from a quest to a holy site is really only another beginning.”