You know those prayer walks? Perhaps you know them as a prayer labyrinth or as a walking meditation tool. You start at one side and walk around, looping back on your path, until you reach the center.
I hate them.
They seem so pointless and so simple. What does this thing mean? Are you serious that I’ve spent all this time on this path and I haven’t gotten anywhere? I’ve gotten all the way to the center and now I have to work my way back out to the start again. What a waste of time.
I walked one of these labyrinths once. It was at the Scarritt-Bennett center in Nashville. I was really excited at the beginning to finally be participating in this meditation tool. These things have been popping up all over like the Christian version of crop circles for years but I haven’t had the time or inclination to walk one. Now I had both.
I read the instructions. Seems simple enough. Put one foot in front of the other. No choice required. You can’t do it wrong. If you kept walking forward, you’d end up in the center. Simple, right?
Except prayer isn’t anything like that.
There are a lot of choices when praying and even more in following God. Not all of them are simple and some of them are downright scary. Look at Abraham. Look at Moses. Look at Jesus. They all had to make huge sacrifices in following God. They all had to do really brave things with no training and no advice.
There is one part about the labyrinth that seems right. When walking, the path kind of folds back and forth and you end up going really close to where you just were, yet you are that much closer to the center. That fits with my experiences. Sometimes I feel like I’m on familiar ground often, but it is just a little different every time. I’d like to hope that I’m closer to the Source every time I feel that. Practice makes perfect, right?
When I see these labyrinths I want to skip right over all the little lines and just walk right to the center. That is just like how I pray. I’m not really into following rules and regulations. Come to think of it, that is a lot like how I live. Why do it the long way if the short way works? Isn’t the point of the process to get to the goal?
Skip the small talk.
Skip the appetizer.
Let’s get on to the meat of the matter.
Yet I think I might be cheating myself here. With the labyrinth, the goal isn’t the goal. You can achieve the goal within the first few steps. The goal is stillness, and trust. The goal is to just keep walking on the path.
Just starting on the path, you’ve gotten the goal.
Just seeking God, you’ve already found God.