A Wide and Gracious Path by Cheryl Brush

More thoughts on the labyrinth walk from Walking a Sacred Path - Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool by Dr Lauren Artress.

One of the Christian images that is re-imagined in the labyrinth is the “straight and narrow” path. The labyrinth’s path is narrow, but far from straight. The straight and narrow image implies that we can make mistakes or lose our way. The path of life is not easy, and we do make mistakes. But few, if any, are beyond the mercy of God. Losing our way in life is not only a possibility, it is an experience that is part of the spiritual path. We often don’t realize that the way to God is generous and error is part of the journey. As soon as we become conscious that we are lost, we have found our way again. The path of the labyrinth is also forgiving. One person recounted her experience:

“On the return out of the center, somehow I missed the path and returned a second time to the center. There I heard God’s Reassurance: ‘Go ahead. Sometimes you have to repeat the path, but you will be held at the center.’ I let things flow after that, and some amazing energy flowed. Healing energy. I am deeply awed.”

Another way of gauging your own inner assumptions about the straight and narrow path is to ask yourself how wide you envision Jacob’s ladder to be. In my mind’s eye, it was always wide enough for one person. Then I saw William Blake’s amazing painting Jacob’s Ladder in which the path from earth to heaven is as wide as a four-lane highway. And it is graciously curved and flowing, connecting heaven and earth. People are strolling arm in arm, some going up, some going down. It communicates a generosity about the Divine that we long to experience.

The labyrinth introduces us to the idea of a wide and gracious path. It redefines the journey to God: from a vertical perspective that goes from earth up to heaven, to a horizontal perspective in which we are all walking the path together. The vertical path has gotten mired down in perfectionist associations, whereas the horizontal path communicates that we are all in this together(!).