Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Labyrinth

I was introduced to a new religious archetype this weekend, the labyrinth.

Some friends and I were exploring the grounds of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and we found ourselves at the Scarritt Bennett Center, a religious institution and retreat.  We followed the signs toward the garden and found a labyrinth set into the ground with paving stones. It was in the center of a lovely courtyard with trees dropping vibrant yellow and red leaves onto the grass below. The air was fresh with just a nip of cold in it, something that I didn't realize I missed, having spent my fall in humid, rainy Dallas. It was a lovely, affirming morning.

But it got even better.

The labyrinth is an interesting icon. Anthology has taught us that it was an important symbol in Greek myth, Tantric Buddhism, Native American mythology, and Egyptian culture. Many people use it the word synonymously with "maze," but they are not the same thing.

I started at the beginning of the labyrinth, sort of as a lark, but with each turn, I got more and more emotional until I was almost in tears by the time I stepped into the center.  It was such a beautiful experience. My friends and I discussed it and made a few realizations.

The first is that if you look at the center or the other paths, you're going to be confused when the path you're on changes course unexpectedly. The best move, for motion-sickness-avoiding sake, is to look as far down your own path as you can and look for the turn ahead, then look for the next turn after that, and so on, and turn by turn, you'll eventually get where you're going.

The next is that there will be times when you're really close to the center, but your path will suddenly bear farther away for a few moments. It's actually really frustrating being one bank away from the center one moment and then four banks away the next.  But that's how it goes.

The final thought we had is the difference between mazes and labyrinths. As the plaque in the SBC's courtyard explained, a labyrinth has no tricks or dead ends.  There is one path and it always leads to the center if one presses forward long enough.

Do you remember the experience I had with my Heavenly Father a few weeks ago? When His soft, gentle voice told me that it would be okay someday, even though now was shit?  Since then, my life has been exponentially easier.  Don't get me wrong, it still sucks being me in a lot of ways (and it rocks being me in just as many ways [US Grand Prix was this weekend and I was there :) ]), but through it all, I have hope that it will be okay, and the mere presence of that hope makes all the difference.

That's what this labyrinth was to me.  It was proof that life turns out okay, even if the path you're on is circuitous, serpentine, and inefficient.  If you press forward and only look as far ahead as the next turn, you'll get there eventually.

I took a video of the path.  Feel free to watch and experience it through my eyes.

video

Monday, November 11, 2013

Snapchat and religious devotion

I've got a friend at work who likes to organize little employee lunches.  We all grab a bite at some dive, gossip about work and our social lives, laugh, cackle, guffaw, etc.  Sometimes, it's just me and her at these lunches and I like those lunches better than most.

This girl swears like a sailor in her odd, Texas-meets-New York accent and her topics of choice usually include who's banging who, trips we all should take (usually to Vegas or Winstar Casino), good concerts coming up, and so on.  She dresses well too and is always put together.  In all respects, she's a pretty typical young American woman.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I can wait.

About a week ago, I was on the receiving end of some pretty sad emotional wounds. Church is hard, dating is hard, family is hard, and I'm just not adjusting very well to life away from what is familiar.

The straw finally came on Wednesday when I found out that a friend of mine had been lying about stuff to avoid hanging out with me. I felt betrayed and cheap and sad and I immediately started weeping bitterly.

As a sidebar, I often feel as though God chooses to love me in a passive-aggressive way.  I feel incredible guilt when He blesses me, but when life is difficult for whatever reason,  I always interpret it to be a manifestation of His anger.  I'm not blaming any of this on Him, but I can't seem to ever feel His love.  I always feel like He's either dangling blessings in front of me and then guilting me when He gives them, or He withholds love from me like a petulant child.  Unconditional love is not something I understand.

As I cried silently into my pillow, I prayed that if God knew the end from the beginning, then He knew how my story was going to turn out.  I asked Him to tell me if things ever got better and if I'd ever be happy somehow. Almost immediately, I felt calm and tranquil and knew that my happy ending would come, even if I didn't know how or when.  I knew that God knew, and without putting any qualifications on it, He gave me that knowledge to calm me down and help me feel peace.

I was still sad, but the tears stopped flowing and for the first time in a LONG time, I felt humble. I said, out loud, "Okay, I'll wait.  I can wait for things to be good."

Things aren't good.  But they will be good.  And that's enough.  I can wait.

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