The Labyrinth and Care for Self

IMG_6035Sometimes I’m just blown away by how clearly Spirit moves in my life.

I was at a retreat recently and decided to walk the labyrinth one morning as the sun was rising. Since it was early morning, I was aware that the soles of my shoes were particularly noisy on the pea-stone gravel the labyrinth path was made of. I thought, “Oh, I have socks on, I can just walk the labyrinth without shoes. That way I won’t bother anyone.”

So, I prayed and started walking. I had a nice rhythm going and was deep in prayer until about a third of the way in, I noticed my feet were starting to hurt. It wasn’t painful, but I was aware of my feet being uncomfortable.

I thought, what do I do now? Step, step, step. Do I stop here and walk directly to the entrance to retrieve my shoes? Pray, breath, step. I continued to say my prayer in pace with my walking. Step, step, step. Do I walk back, following the path to the entrance? Breath, pray, step. Do I muscle on and just keep doing the labyrinth? Pray, breath, step.

I vacillated between praying, and wondering about going to the entrance or the center. What to do? Then, I stopped. I was at the entrance, right next to my shoes. I’m not sure how I did it, but thankfully, there I was. I had to laugh at myself. I said out loud, “Got it, God! Thanks!” The lesson of the labyrinth, the answer to my prayer, the gift of that moment was—“Steph, take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard.”

The spiritual journey doesn’t have to be a trial. It doesn’t need to be about self-sacrifice, putting others first, or pain.

In the comfort of my shoes, I walked to the center of the labyrinth and sat in silence as the sun rose, thankful for the chance to learn this lesson in a physical, gentle, and simple way.

Yes, take care of myself. It doesn’t have to be hard.

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