Iíve always wanted to walk a labyrinth – you know those spiraled paths that lead nowhere and everywhere.
I was in luck. Kripalu, where I was teaching a workshop recently, had one that was reputed to be particularly magical. And I got enmeshed in walking the labyrinth as the sun set for over an hour.
The First Time
To enter the labyrinth, you walk through a gate and then follow the blossom-lined path, where tall grasses brush your bare legs this time of year. You curve right and then start to spiral around – and then the path changes and suddenly youíre going the other direction.
You walk quite a while and find yourself parallel to where you just were, a ways back. Your legs start to feel tired, and you find yourself a bit frustrated because youíre really not getting anywhere. At least thatís how it feels.
Just when you think youíre approaching the center of the labyrinth – PSYCH! You were wrong. Itís time to double back and go the opposite direction, away from where you thought you were going. You feel like youíre backtracking. You wonder if youíre lost. You consider turning around. You hunt for someone who might give you directions.
Then you remember that thereís really only one way in and one way out of a labyrinth, and you simply must trust the path.
But you cling to your faith and you keep walking, turning blind corners, following the well-worn trail. As you go, you start noticing the variety of the flowers. You notice how the sky is turning pink. You hear the birds singing.
Suddenly, you get lost in the journey. You stare in wonder at the butterfly on your way. You stop and smell the earthy scent of the loamy dirt beneath your feet. You look behind you at where youíve been to make sure you didnít miss something.
You start humming to yourself and barely notice that the other person is now gone, somehow escaped form the labyrinth altogether.
Then the path ends. You are there. In the center of the labyrinth lies an altar. People have placed notes and stones and sacred trinkets at the base of a pole that marks the center. You kneel at the altar, grateful for having arrived.
Then you realize you havenít arrived. You have only just begun. The only way back out is the way you came in. You retrace your steps. You can see where people have skipped the walk back, where they have jumped the hedge to hopscotch straight from the altar to the gate where you entered. You wonder why someone would want to rush it. You notice the path, twisting and turning.