Labyrinth. We use the word synonomously with ‘maze’. Other thesaurus suggestions include: tangle, complication, jungle, puzzle and web. Curiously, we’ve imbued this inherently simple path with confusion, dilemma and deception. Walking the Edinburgh University Labyrinth this week, I wondered if this was a reflection of the human condition – to add challenge, struggle and obstacles to make any achievement feel deserved.
Despite the apparent chaos from the outside, a labyrinth has only one, non-branching path leading to and from the centre. There are no wrong turns, no dead-ends and no mistakes. The journey, though simple, was profound. The symbolism continuing to present itself for many days after.
In the beginning, my eyes rushed ahead, trying to anticipate where the next corner would lead. The more I advanced along the path, the further I felt I was moving from the centre. I gently let go and began to trust the path. My heart beat slowed and the surroundings receded. My focus narrowed to a single step. I reached the centre, the place of openness and receiving, and looked skywards. A lone swallow circled above. Able to go any which way, he chose to circle here.
As I turned to travel back, the sun disappeared, the wind picked up and sharp summer rain pierced the ground. Was this a challenge? When the storm approaches, literally and metaphorically, do we turn and run for shelter? Forget our single path and each necessary step to and from the centre? Or can we hold its gaze. Stand firm. Stick to our path and stay focused only on the next step. It’s a question I am still answering….