I love to walk labyrinths as a centering and worship experience. Walking mazes, however, is an entirely different thing, especially when trying to keep up with an entire group of children and families on an Inter-generational Study trip in England. While at Leeds Castle near Kent a few years ago, we took the group on an excursion to walk the castle's famous maze. The maze has some 2,400 yew trees trimmed as thick hedges. It is built in a square, but when viewed from the center or from above, one sees that the maze in a round pattern within the square which adds to the difficulty. Leeds Castle has existed since 1119. King Henry made it the residence of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Many updates were made to the structure in the 19th century.
Life is full of sacred complications that can be rich and purposeful with mystery woven into our experiences. Sometimes challenges and difficulties in life can be a kind of holy disruption. What gets our attention and what fosters the most growth? Tough moments in our lives can shape the soul for better or they can be a cause of depletion and drain. There are times in my life when I cannot easily find my way out of a maze. Do I turn this way or that? Do I follow this person or another? Do I simply wander around and not worry--just experiencing the beauty around me? What will I have learned when I finally find my way out of a confusing and difficult situation? Life is indeed a journey with many twists and turns. I am one of the least spatial persons on the planet so even if I had a map of the Leeds Castle Maze, I would surely get lost. Sometimes I just have to step out and go for it and find my way as I go. It makes for a creative and non-linear way to live.
In the center of the Leeds Maze is a mound of sorts. I found that if I kept my eyes on the center mound, I could find my way in and out with greater ease. The maze is huge with so many challenging paths. For me, a directionally challenged person, it was tough. Some of the time, I simply followed the children which meant I had to just BE in the moment. With the children, I learned in my maze moments to run with abandon. The children were not worried if every turn they took was the most precise and best choice or not. The children were all about freely taking in all the beauty and fun. When they got "lost" they just kept on keeping on and found their way with creativity and zest. Their joy was contagious. They ran unafraid with laughter and curiosity. In the maze, I became a child again. It turns out, I think that is a pretty good way to live.
Whatever life offers, whether it be a difficult maze or a peaceful labyrinth, I know that if I keep my eyes on Christ, my center, I will find my way. Whether the path is simple or complex, I continually pray for peace and guidance. I know I need the love and help of God and others to show me the way as I travel.
Whatever path is taken today, may there be peace in the mazes of life. And, may the complications and challenges that are presented shape our souls. May our paths be illuminated with the love and light of God. Amen.