Where to begin?
I've been dreaming of this day for years. Finally… a formal gathering of community that will — is — creating Coming Home. A small but loving group is meeting weekly to focus on a major pilot project for July of this summer.
Now that it's here, I'm a bit lost. Overwhelmed. Ready for life to "bring it", but bamboozled about what is being brought. I'm running through the tunnels of a maze and only making miniscule headway.
A maze is a complex and confusing pathway made up of dead-ends, wrong turns, and intentional terror. It is designed to perplex us as we find the way(s) out on the other side. Many of the youth showing up to Coming Home will feel just such fear and a sense of being trapped.
Time to re-negotiate the terms of the maze, I think. I know I have to for myself.
A labyrinth is unicursal — that is, there is one way in, one path, and one Centre. There are twists, turns, and it often takes a long time to navigate but there is grounded hope that we WILL reach the centre. It seems to me that this is what so many of us are labouring to accomplish: to reach the centre.
To find peace.
To find healing.
To find our core.
To find our deepest shadows.
To find… perhaps we don't even know.
What we do know is that whatever is at the heart of the labyrinth will be real — no hiding, no games, no pretends. Raw truth of who we are in the moment, but also a Loving Presence waiting to receive us, invite us in. It is this Presence who has been with us all along, but so often we neglect to detect Her touch or guidance.
It seems to me that maybe we're all living a labyrinth-maze hybrid. A maze has dead ends; a labyrinth isn't supposed to, but the fact of life is: there are dead ends. We have to turn right around and try something new… or die. The goal of a maze is to get out; the goal of the labyrinth is to find the Eternal Hope in the centre. Instead of running for our lives out of the maze, perhaps we need to adjust our perspective, turn around yet again and head back into the twists and turns. We're no longer running from God or who we are, but rather towards both.
Both mazes and labyrinths are long, difficult, circuitous and frustrating. But while a maze challenges us to find any way out of wherever we are, the labyrinth bids us forward, becoming grateful for each step. Hope has a way of redefining our journey so we know Who waits for us at the centre of all things. We can then face the difficulties of the journey, but also appreciate the beauty around us, the complexity, the deceptive simplicity and even the air we breathe while making our pilgrimages. Thoughts assault us, but become less invasive or intrusive in a labyrinth. Signs and markers becoming more meaningful as we understand God's symbolism and language. Our divine encounters seem more perceptible than when we're straining in fear or anger to exit a maze.
Traditional labyrinths, as I said, don't have dead ends. I think for many of us… ours do. We reach dead ends and we don't know what to do. We've hit so many before, there's never a way out, and we give up. There will always be crack… always be booze… always be deadbeat parents who couldn't give a rip… beatings from Mom, Dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, cousin, sibling, pimp… judgment from places of support… park benches for beds… lies from loved ones… sex for money… and our own accusations towards our own sorry selves. Always. Never any changes.
So I think Today's Labyrinth might hold dead ends… and it's okay that they do. We need to recognize and honour our dead ends. These places show us where we've tried to live life… and failed. Whether we've attemped to live with valour or harm, faith or fear, they show that we have, indeed, attempted to live. These ends aren't to be erased, but rather stand as testaments and pointers of where we've come from.
And how, when and where we've turned around.
But with the assurance of a labyrinth, we can relinquish the fear and claustrophobia of a maze, and adopt a true Hope knowing that we WILL reach the Centre; we WILL come to a place of Life; we WILL be welcomed; we WILL understand that these things accompany us on our journeys.
We WILL Come Home.