Letting and Listening
Recently, I went on a weekend getaway with my closest friends. We’re an adventuresome bunch, the kinds of women wise enough to follow the promptings of whispers about thin places, about holy grounds. This is the second time we’ve propelled our swirling selves into the unknown…a fine and good habit, we believe. One of the days during our time, we climbed in the car with loose intentions and headed towards a mountain town well known for its thin places. We ended up stopping just 1/2 way there to feel out a place that sounded promising.
The grey-stone chapel backed up to a beautiful lake, which we walked towards through a beautiful archway. There were large-bellied geese enjoying the warm North Carolina day on the shore. As we made our way around the Chapel, we we found the treasure we were looking for. The labyrinth.
It was simple, much simpler than a few of us had visualized—just a worn path on the sunny chapel side yard. The four of us stared at it for a minute. It can be a strange sensation to leave not knowing what you would find and yet find something deep down you were looking for—curious and miraculous are words that come close…but aren’t quite enough.
We took off our shoes, I came to the threshold of the Labyrinth first, and took a deep breath. I had left Houston with troubles on my mind and a weighted, breaking heart. I stepped onto the path. Slowly, each of my friends entered in. The ground was hard and dry, warmed with sun, and scattered with Goose shit.
Yes, that’s right. There was shit everywhere.
You had to be mindful to avoid it.
We walked though, breathing, watching where we stepped, slowly pacing out our path towards the center. One by one we arrived to the inner core, some of us with tears, others with giant grins. We took a moment there, breathing, expressing, celebrating within. With great clarity I heard a voice say to me, Welcome to the heart of God. I closed my eyes and took several breaths to appreciate and accept this welcome. I looked into the faces of each of my beautiful friends.
We had made our way to the heart of God. We weren’t on a pathway paved of gold but a pathway so narrow you had to walk one foot in front of the other to stay on, and that was literally littered every 6 inches or so with poo. Some things started to become clear to me:
There was shit on the pathway into God’s heart, what’s more, we likely tracked some in on our heels…and yet God did not seemed phased by it. We were welcomed regardless of what we carried in with us.
We didn’t have to come changed.
We didn’t have to come with proof we lived good, sacrificial lives.
We didn't have to claim to believe or know God what-so-ever.
We were welcomed for who we are, period. Regardless. Never-the-less.
This was oddly reassuring. Then I realized something else: stepping out of the heart of God put me right back on a shit-filled road! There was no avoiding it. The road in, the road out…it was as if we were getting a simplified and yet amplified lesson of Life 101: there will be shit.
I heard clearly, “You leave soaked of the heart of God.” I was dripping with God. We were dripping of God. Every step left an imprint. We didn’t do anything differently. Stepping slowly, watching our feet, winding, like blood cells carrying oxygen through a trail of artery. But, our perceptions were different. I didn’t feel the weight of what I entered with.
I had the pleasure and privilege of receiving each of my dear friends as they exited the labyrinth with love and blessing, and I have had the honor and privilege of witnessing the continued blessing of what God continues to inspire into the world through their willingness.
Walking a Labyrinth is an ancient contemplative practice that promotes an inner space that is helpful for deep listening. Consider googling one in your area and making time for the practice of letting and listening.