22 Five Messages about the Spiritual Journey, from The Labyrinth
This episode was inspired by our visit to The Grotto here in Portland, Oregon.
(Here’s a statue of St. Francis with the animals, that they have in their upper level gardens. 🦆🦅🦉🦇🐝🐛🦋🐌🐞🐜🕷🐢🐍🦎🦂🦀🦑🦐🐠🦈🐋🐊🐆🐅🐃🐂🐄🦌🐫🐘🦏🦍🐖🐐🐏🐕🐈🐓🦃🐇🐀🐿)
More specifically, this episode was inspired by the labyrinth – also on the upper gardens – which is a replica of the labyrinth built into the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France.
*NOTE: Chartres Cathedral was constructed over the course of about a century, about 800 years ago…or approximately 32 generations ago, so, sort of during the lifetime of all of our great-grandparents, 30 times over (!)
Quickly: What’s a Labyrinth?
The Chartres labyrinth is fascinating because it’s part of a larger mystical tradition of labyrinths used in Christianity and Catholicism…but also in spiritual traditions around the world.
Our human species’ fascination with labyrinths probably evolved out of our awareness of the cyclical/spiral patterns and movements of nature.
The labyrinth is a metaphor for the spiritual journey
It provides a structure for physical, ritual movement.
It’s a meditation device.
Labyrinths are often built or placed on the ground.
But they were also built into the walls of medieval churches.
These wall labyrinths were “designed for people to trace with their fingers before they entered the cathedral. This was understood to be a way of quieting the mind before entering sacred space.” (Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool by Dr. Lauren Artress)
The Labyrinth for the LGBT Community
So, anyway…we walked the labyrinth at The Grotto. And wow.
First of all, as LGBT people, we appreciate that the labyrinth isn’t tied to ideas of dogmatic condemnation like other, more widespread religious symbols (like, for example, the crucifix or the cross).
And second, as spiritual beings, we just appreciate the holistic meditation experience the labyrinth provides.
So without further ado, here are…
Five Messages About the Spiritual Journey, from the Labyrinth
#1 Your journey is to be taken with your whole being
You are meant to walk the path of the labyrinth.
Or trace it, and feel it with your fingers.
You, as an organism, literally travel along this path.
This is not an abstract mental thing.
It’s a whole body-and-mind experience.
So refreshing and healing for our modern, fractured selves.
The labyrinth comes from a time prior to our modern assumption that there’s some kind of hard division between “physical” and “spiritual,” or “body” and “mind.”
#2 You are on the right path
A labyrinth is not a maze.
There’s only one path on it.
So you’re on the right one.
All you have to do it stay on it.
And take the next step.
You can rest (in the assurance that you’re on the right path) while still enjoying the adventure of not knowing every twist and turn along the way (see #4 coming up).
#3 You’ll feel like you’re not getting anywhere, sometimes
This is normal.
Sometimes (a lot of times) the path does a 180° turn!
You’ll feel like you’re just circling something, but not making any progress.
You will have the sensation that your activity and efforts are in vain.
So it might feel frustrating.
This is normal.
You’re still on the right path.
Even if you feel disheartened or like you’re not getting anywhere, there is a larger, more objective reality on which to to base your belief and faith that: you are getting somewhere.
#4 You’re not meant to get the whole plan ahead of time…
The Divine does not exist to give you “life hacks.”
The spiritual journey is not about ‘hacking’ success or achieving more, faster.
Which explains why we don’t get any pre-fab, IKEA-style plans for our lives.
What we get are turn-by-turn directions, for use as we travel the journey, which means we get…
good company and conversation
and a relationship that transforms us into who the people were meant to be
That is, if we listen, if we pay attention.
In other words, if we stay in relationship with God.
#5 …Because if you did (get the whole plan ahead of time) you wouldn’t feel like you need to stay in relationship with the divine
…and you’d miss the good stuff and the whole point of Life and spiritual growth.
Which is: unity with the Divine.
Oneness with God.
The culture around us fixates on a conflicted mash-up of outward success and inner fulfillment, pitching and chasing all kinds of systems for success or mindful habits for achieving inner peace.
What’s fascinating is that science is validating the spiritual truth that healthy human beings are a result of healthy relationships.
We do not live by bread alone, but by bonds formed with one another and with larger ideas.
Wanna find a labyrinth near you?
Search the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.