I had an opportunity a few days ago to walk a labyrinth.
Have you ever walked one?
Once I learned about them a few years ago, I started coming across them everywhere. On a bluff above the ocean. In a public garden. In an empty lot. The one I walked this week is painted on the stones of a church courtyard a few miles from my house. I walked it with a friend from my Friday mediation group.
A labyrinth, if you aren't familiar, is a compact and winding path marked on the ground. I looks like a maze, but in fact there is only one way through. You simply walk along, following the path, and it eventually winds you through and back out.
If you do it with kids, it becomes a curlicue running game, and that's always fun. But when you do it alone, at an unhurried pace, it becomes something very different. Thoughts settle, the body relaxes into the rhythm, and sometimes quiet insight emerges.
Lately I've been trying to pin down how I define myself. What exactly do I do, and should I do, now that I'm not working and my kids are in school? I've thought about it, I've talked it over with friends, and I even sat down to try to diagram out my roles and my priorities on a piece of paper (in classic Laurel style. I barely resisted making a Powerpoint about it.) I even wrote a series of somewhat tortured blog posts, which I never posted. I'm trying to answer the little voice that is asking "am I doing the right things? Am I doing enough?"
This was somewhere deep in the back of my mind when I took my first step into the Labyrinth. I wasn't thinking about it actively, and I didn't enter the labyrinth intending to meditate on that question. But when I emerged at the end of the walk, my friend offered me a beautiful card with gold edging, and a pen. Use it, she said, to record whatever might have come to you. A word, a phrase. Anything, or nothing.
This is what I wrote.
I think I'm going to set aside the roles diagram with it's circles, arrows and lines, and leave the rambling blog posts unposted. I think it's too soon to define things so concretely, and too early to pin things down into a pretty model or neat little diagram.
I need more time to let myself settle. To experiment. To try things out, or try them on. I need to trust that, at least for now, I'm on the right track.
You really should try walking a Labyrinth sometime.