During the first Covid-19 Lockdown in Auckland, I build a labyrinth in my front yard. We put a sign up inviting people from the neighbourhood to make use of it too, socially distanced and safely of course. I love the labyrinth (both Mana and Te Moata retreat centres on the Coromandel have them). I find that is is a very good analogy to how we travel through life.
We enter, not really knowing what we will find, we can choose to set an intention or a point of focus, but we all know minds wander….as we walk we notice the ground and our feet and then the decorations of the labyrinth, we need to be watchful when the turns come.
There are many turns in a labyrinth, just as in life, sometimes the straight stretches are longer than others, but sooner or later another turn comes. If we notice the path, we will see that there can be little blips of this or that (a loose rock, a leaf, a twig), and if we become aware of our positioning in this labyrinth we see how we move.
Moving through the labyrinth takes you towards the center first, and then back out to the outer parts, then back to the middle, and back out again, just as we sometimes move between getting closer to what we are looking for and then perhaps getting a bit turned around and further from the goal now and again.
We eventually reach the center, but probably not without thoughts of; “Hmmm, I thought I walked this part already.”, “Did I miss a turn?”, “This is taking a bit of time, isn’t it.”, “OMG, and then I have to do the whole thing again to get out?” Similar to the questions that arise in our lives as we keep moving along.
Lockdown Labyrinth 2020
Sometimes there are others walking at the same time, and the movement through the labyrinth is even more pronounced, as we are sometimes on opposite sides of the the whole, sometimes passing each other going in opposite directions on seperate paths, and sometimes we meet on a path and must negotiate how to pass each other. Always we know that the path we are walking has been walked before, although each person has had their own experience with it. Also all very much similar to what we do in our relationships in life with other people.
We can rush through the middle or take some time, reflecting, or just being in that moment in the middle. Perhaps we have brought something to leave there? I tend to linger in each part of the middle compass taking time to really see and hear my surroundings, after being more concentrated on the walking for the rest of the time. Finally, we start walking out again.
The way out sometimes seems longer, sometimes shorter, again turning inward and outward, with some distractions, or obstacles on the path. The last turn can sometimes come as a surprise, sometimes is welcome, and sometimes has a bit of loss connected with it.
How many more times will I walk that labyrinth, and how many more times the labyrinth of life?
Original version first published on Moa Compassion Blog March 11, 2019
Updated Nov. 12, 2021