While trying not to succumb to the whole New Year’s Resolution thing, I make some resolutions, or what I like to call “shifts and adjustments.” I resolve to get back on track with healthy eating. I promise myself I will spend less time angsting on social media and rage-tweeting about global events I cannot actually control. I take a solemn vow to reinstate my Gadget-Free Friday. (Remember that?? hahahahahaaaa….I think it lasted two Fridays…if that)
In the past, some New Year’s Days I have sought out a labyrinth to walk. It is an occasional habit I like to indulge on that brand spanking new day, full of promise and potential, a way of stepping into what feels like a moment of transition, of putting me back in touch with my own power to initiate change.
The history of labyrinth walking is centuries old. The name dates back to Greek mythology and the Isle of Crete, where the legendary Minotaur, a half-man half-bull monster, was trapped inside by the winding maze.
The entrance to the labyrinth is my portal, and as I walk in and glide along slowly, the years spool out behind me. Ahead of me, the future lies in a meandering path, leading me to switchbacks and reversals, where I brush up against the way I just walked and time past, then into the center where I will stop and wait for all the “me’s” – past, future, and present – to catch up to one another.
In the center I am hoping my scattered pieces can coalesce a bit. Each year I find I crave more and more that sense of coming home to myself.
From the center I’m led out on a seemingly (but not actually) different path, again back and forth, back and forth and finally, miraculously, delivered from the labyrinth and into the ordinariness of the day. The winding and unwinding will remain a tactile memory implanted as sensory information in my brain.
And in truth, no day is ordinary. Apparently, in recent news scientists at CERN concluded the universe should not exist. Yet…here we are.
An Episcopal church up the road had opened their doors for pilgrims to walk the in-floor labyrinth on New Year’s Eve, but we were busy having a big old party, so instead I wound my way through the house, chatting with people, meeting new folks, eavesdropping on stories, counting my blessings that I am here, now.
Several years ago on New Year’s Day I walked a small stony unkempt labyrinth in the back yard of a Methodist church in Carolina Beach, squinting my eyes as I tried to track the nearly disappeared pattern.
Another year I downloaded a finger labyrinth onto my iPad and followed the mesmerizing pattern on the screen with the pointer finger of my right hand.
(This year in Wilmington it was cold and raw on New Year’s Day, so I stayed in and pondered the slippage of time while sipping a Mimosa and chatting with my new roommates.)
Each time I experience a labyrinth, I’m reminded anew of how deceptive the path can be. Just when you think you are approaching the center, you find you are flung back out again, so you just have to keep going, trusting the path will bring you to where you need to be.
“Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.”
That phrase is said to have come into common usage from a talent show called The Original Amateur Hour. The emcee spun the wheel to determine the order in which guest performers would appear. Singers and dancers, jugglers, baton twirlers, and musicians performed for a live audience that then cast ballots for their favorites, the winner taking home a cash prize.
May I confess to you that’s how I feel nearly all the time – like an amateur? As an alleged adult, as a human being trying to become a better one. As a writer. As a person seeking more answers while also seeking more mystery. Total amateur.
Of course, the Word Nerd in me demands I go look up the etymology of amateur, and I find it means “one who loves.” Nice. Grace embedded in even our clumsy attempts. I’ll take it.
This morning we awoke to snow (snow!!) here in Wilmington. The egrets have hunkered down somewhere; the blue heron sits hunched gazing into the water, clearly confused. The songbirds are eating up all the seed they can get their little beaks on. The marsh is edged with ice and the reeds dusted with white.
Some days I have no idea how I got here, my house for sale, my life relocated. Then I remember…I just kept following the path.
Happy New Year, everyone. Wishing you beautiful winding ways, alluring portals, gifts from time past, present, and future, and abundant grace for your own amateur hours. I am glad to count you as traveling companions.