More Lessons from the Labyrinth: Slow Steps

Labyrinth in the snow
Labyrinth in the snow

There’s lots I’m pondering and praying through right now. Especially the last two weeks, I’ve been in a period of intentional listening. I was a finalist for a job, but wasn’t selected.

What do you want, Lord?

I ask sincerely, not desperately. It’s not like I haven’t been listening all along. I’m on the right track. My Calling is clear: my work will be in some kind of intentional ministry. If not in a healthcare setting, then in a church or nonprofit. Where I can use my gifts in administration, organization, music, creativity, spiritual care and communication. Where I can work towards continuing my education. And where I’m actually compensated for my work beyond a “stipend.”

So I walk… quietly. Thoughtfully. Carefully. I would rather avoid the pain of rejection again, but I also know that part of this process is being willing to persevere. As Eugene Peterson wrote in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: “A common but futile strategy for achieving joy is trying to eliminate things that hurt: get rid of pain by numbing the nerve ends, get rid of insecurity by eliminating risks, get rid of disappointments by depersonalizing your relationships.”

No… avoidance won’t work.

So I walk… slightly shivering. Hearing the creak of frozen snow underfoot. Lots of slow, careful steps, for my labyrinth has an icy snowfall on top of the grass and bricks. Every step made carefully and thoughtfully. And with every step I felt the compression of the fresh snow, sticks and grass under my boots. Every step left an impression, a disruption of what was a cool, clean surface. There were lots of gentle turns and cautious steps. I didn’t try to go too fast, and I didn’t stand still in the cold. When I was chilled through, I stopped and went inside.

So much of walking the circuit in my yard, and processing recent events in my life are the same thing. It’s about being honest about what I can do and what I need to leave behind…

I’m grateful for a quiet space to put my uber-extroverted self in a kind of “neutral” gear and listen to God. Listen for cues, for reminders, for affirmations and most of all, for redirection.

Sarah McLachlan’s song came to mind as I walked. And God is faithful. God will answer. This I believe. I could hear God’s heart reaching out to mine in these words:

I will be the answer
At the end of the line
I will be there for you
While you take the time

In the burning of uncertainty
I will be your solid ground
And I will hold the balance
If you can’t look down

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It’ll all be worth it
Worth it in the end

‘Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all gone out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
Memory of choosing not to fight

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It will all be worth
Worth it in the end

‘Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all burned out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind

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