No, no—that’s not how you do it.
That’s what I was thinking as the group began to walk the labyrinth. They were here for one of the retreats that Pam and I host here at Copper House. The leader asked if the small group of six could use the labyrinth for one of their sessions, so I led them out to the prayer circle we had just finished building and stayed to watch.
The leader divided them into groups of two and asked them to walk the labyrinth together. The one chosen to walk would close her eyes and be guided by her partner standing outside the circle.
That’s not how you walk a labyrinth, I wanted to say. It’s not a corporate team-building event like a blindfolded obstacle course. It’s a walking meditation!
Then I watched as one person took halting steps, bumped into the stone borders, froze, would not move without a word from her coach. I watched how the one outside the circle offered directional cues, some that worked and some that didn’t. Left. Right. No—30 degrees right. And the one that moved me most: Come to the sound of my voice.
Who was I to tell these people how to walk the labyrinth?
If the twisting circuits of a labyrinth are meant to portray the decidedly non-linear path of our lives, the sightless walker added yet another layer of verisimilitude: the path is twisted and we mostly walk blind. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). How many times in my life had I been utterly lost, not only without direction but without sight, without bearings, without hope?
And if the gift of a labyrinth is to allow a pilgrim to trust the direction of a power beyond us, then having a coach guiding you home is just perfect. When people tell stories of God intervening in their lives, offering direction and hope, it almost always involves another person, someone who mediates the divine presence for us. So why was I so sure that the right way to walk a labyrinth is alone?