8.09.2005

Labyrinth (the spiritual practice, not the Bowie movie)


One of the best parts of going to General Assembly in Portland was the chance to see Lara, my dear friend who recently defected to Seattle. She rented a car to drive down and spend 26 hours with me, and we made use of most of them (lost about 7 to sleep- what a pity!). In addition to eating a lot - take heed, if you ever go to Portland (ahem, Peppermint), go to Mother's Bistro! - we also painted our toes outside of the Oregon Convention Center as all the Disciples were going in for worship. But the best part of the whirlwind visit was our foray into the Assembly Chapel. Now, Lara is the kind of woman who believes in something called "affirmations," and had a bookshelf of brightly-colored meditation books lining the wall of her bathroom in seminary. I have in the past accused her of being somewhat "touchy-feely," but I've learned through the years that there is nothing imponderous about Lara's healing spirit. (She is currently an emergency room chaplain in Seattle.) The Assembly Chapel was just up Lara's alley: soft music, prayer quilts hanging from the walls, and the ultimate Lara accessory, the Labyrinth.
People approach the Labyrinth differently- some pray, some meditate, some focus on a particular issue that recquires discernment. Some, myself occasionally included, try to get past the feeling that one has entered a zombie cult. Despite my struggles with boredom and self-consciousness, the Labyrinth is growing on me. I love the symbolism of meandering one's way into the Center, turning around, and following the same path back into the world, changed. (I have clearly been friends with Lara a long time to write a sentence like that.)
We started walking. As I followed her, our relative positions shifted. I walked behind. We walked abreast. We walked apart. We followed the structured curves of the Labyrinth until we reached the center and embraced, at which point I wept. And then it was time to follow the serpentine path back into the world, where the roads don't always converge.

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