The Gift

As I walk the path that winds,

I focus on leaving behind:

The fear of failure choking me,

The shame that keeps me far from free,

Those that left me when I fell,

And those who never loved me well.

I leave behind each sin of mine

That claims my mind when I feel fine,

And every need that it be known

That I’m not bad and that I’ve grown.

I leave behind each judging face

That wasn’t there in the first place.

At every turn and every twist,

I drop a shackle from my wrist.

As labyrinth goes on and on,

More weights that hold me back are gone.

Now to the middle, I’ve arrived.

The first of three, I have survived.

I pause a step before I enter,

Not knowing what waits in the center.

In silence now, I stand inside

My heart and soul are open wide.

A seed of holiness is sown,

And I know that I’m not alone.

A voice within, the Silence speaks,

The sacred Presence my soul seeks.

“Take up what things will build your soul,

Leave here your need to keep control.

Live on as what you have become,

Let not your past be bothersome.

This is a gift to you from me:

Turn ’round and walk out differently.”

So this I do in joyous haste,

I must be going, no time to waste.

One cannot wait to move ahead

Because their past is full of dread.

The present now is all that’s here,

The future ever drawing near.

I pick up hope, I pick up peace

I pick up joy, a sweet release.

I nab redemption, pocket strength,

Drop fear (again!) after a length.

I’m at the end, but something’s wrong.

I’m missing something really strong.

Ah, yes, of course! I make some space,

Slapping myself on the face.

The greatest gift from up above,

and from within, I pick up love.

Love for myself and for my kin,

Love for my wife, my child’s grin.

For my enemies, and for the stranger,

That will sustain me in every danger.

Love that clears my eyes to see,

Love that lives life completely.

Walking the Winding Road

Someone may plan his journey by his own wit, but it is the LORD who guides his steps. — Proverbs 16:9, REB

Every week, I visit my former seminary in Dallas and walk the courtyard prayer labyrinth. Few spiritual disciplines afford me the same peace, meditation, and insight as my weekly pilgrimage to its center. An ancient method of moving meditation and personal transformation, the labyrinth has brought me peace in some of the most tumultuous times in my life.

For me, the labyrinth is a replica of life. Many of us would liken life to a maze, full of intentional deception culminating in dead ends unless your just lucky or persistent.

Life, however, is one path from beginning to end, and that end is certain.

The labyrinth has taught me that although life includes many winding turns and potential obstacles (especially when it’s under construction, as in the photo), we will always find our way through them if we only continue on. Choosing to stay still is the only way to become trapped in a labyrinth, and so it is in life. If we decide to stay put in a miserable, bitter, hateful, or pitiless way of living, it’s about as useful as hitting a turn in a labyrinth and just plopping down for good.

I don’t know what kind of journey you’ve had, but I can tell you that all those sharp turns, huccups, and obatacles are completely okay. They’re normal. Life isn’t a straight line, but it ends in the same place for us all, and the best thing we can do is keep walking, experiencing and appreciating all of it.

Peace be with you!