Tumbling in the Sand
There are hundreds and hundreds of little tiny irregular blue dots all over the floor in the fellowship hall at Salem. At certain angles, they look randomly placed as though someone tossed confetti in the air and this is how it landed, but if you look a minute you’ll notice that all the little dots are arranged in twelve concentric rings.
The rings will trace the pathway of a Chartres labyrinth when the dots are connected. Putting the dots down (tiny bits of painter’s tape) was the first step in constructing a tape labyrinth that we will be using on Wednesdays during Lent.
While I had actually wanted to finish tonight (because I always think major projects aren’t going to take any time at all) and my back is now sore from sticking lots of tiny pieces of tape to the floor, I’m excited about having a labyrinth for that long and hope that those who experience it this Lent get as much or more out of it as I have done when I have walked labyrinths in the past.
I’ve always been surprised by my labyrinth experiences. I tend to approach “spiritual practices” with a degree of skepticism—and for some reason, particularly the labyrinth—I mean what is walking around in a twisted up circle going to do for you? I’m skeptical, I suppose partly because I was taught to be skeptical. Partly because it seems odd that doing something could get you closer to a God who is already nearer to you than you are to yourself. And partly because there is something “magical” about doing something and *poof* the divine appears … or speaks to you … or, well, whatever.
So, every time I have entered a labyrinth, I take the skepticism with me. It’s a little less now than it was, but it still lingers. However, every time I’ve entered a labyrinth, I also take with me a question, a thought, a concern, a scripture passage, a poem … something (sometimes it’s just anxiety or frustration). And every time (and I mean every time) I’ve gained some insight, some peace, some assurance, some something that I needed from the experience. It’s very strange to me.
Even this first step of constructing the labyrinth turned out to be meaningful. I was listening to “On Being” with Krista Tippet. She was talking with some lady (Natalie Batalha) about finding exoplanets by looking at variations in light intensities of stars (because a circling planet would occasionally cast a shadow as it passed between its star and us, and then you could see the shadow). The data they collect on this project they are working on (The Kepler Project (?)) is a vast amount of numbers and, I imagine, like my dots, at first glance those numbers look random. But, upon careful analysis by computer (and simple observation by lots of human eyes), patterns emerge and planets are discovered, and maybe one day they will find a planet that has life on it … or one that could sustain life like earth.
I think about my crazy little dots all over the floor and imagine I’m standing in the midst of a galaxy of strange blue stars and I wonder what meaning will emerge from their patterns of concentric rings. While I don’t think planets will be aligning, I kind of wonder if worlds could be discovered, but certainly, while I wonder, I pray that life may be improved by whatever the discovery.