I trace my index finger slowly carefully, up and around and one more time around the labyrinth. Whoops a quick turn here I almost missed.
This month I’m taking a class on “Navigating Transitions” and today our teacher has invited us to take a few minutes to trace our way through this finger labyrinth. As we trace our way, she encourages us to remember and reflect on how we have walked through our own journeys of transition.
What I know this afternoon is how incredibly good I am at this. I mean look at me, so carefully following the lines, so quick too! Whoops — not so quick. I guess I’m not at the end yet. More careful tracing, careful, careful. Yes! The middle successfully reached and in record time!
Most students in our class on “Navigating Transitions” don’t think much of the finger labyrinth and I thought I’d be one of them too.
But then something happened when I tried to trace my way out of the middle and back to the beginning. I start back, so confident and clear and then I can’t get out. I mean, I keep coming right back to the middle again. This silly game and I am so frustrated. What’s happened? What’s wrong?
And then my frustration breaks into laughter. It comes to me as it has come so many times before and will time and again as I never seem to get the point of it before I forget it again — its not really about being so good. That’s not even the question.
Tracing or walking a labyrinth can be a way to get in touch with your intention for your path ahead.
Tracing or walking a labyrinth can reveal you and how you walk.
Sometimes I think, I’m so good at this! And maybe for the moment, I am. So bright. So careful and quick. And then here I am the next moment circling right back to where I began, slipping in mud and covered in paint.
Today, I get another lesson in humility and reminder that the way I walk the path of life matters. Learn yet again that I’m better walking mine with a little lightness and ease than with some surefire fixed intent to show how quick and competent I am.
The impact of our way of walking was all brought home to me later this week in a walk through a pueblo with anthropologist Martha Yates.
The Tsankawi Pueblo, part of the Bandelier National Monument, was established about 1400. And what I think is like the coolest thing here is that the paths of the people who lived here are worn away into the pumice on the mesa. We literally are walking the paths they walked here some 600 years ago. Some of us in our group realize they were quite smaller than we are while some of us stride through the narrow paths with ease. Martha tells us there are seven, eight miles of these trails here. I want to explore them all.
Once again, a reminder that time is not linear, its vertical. Its not that we have stepped away from our past, moved on from the lives we have lived. The past is here beneath our feet. We walk as we do, stumble as we stumble because of the paths our ancestors have worn before us.
We learn that some 800 to 1000 feet under the earth here at Ghost Ranch are the footprints of those who have walked here before us. Last year archaeologists discovered in White Sands, New Mexico, the footprints of children playing by a stream bed 21,000-23,000 years ago.
We wear a way as we walk in the way of those who have gone before us.
How we walk, where we walk, matters.
The paths we trace, we leave for the children who come after us.
How mindlessly I tromp through the snow, slip through the mud, so unaware of my path and the consequences.
The people who walked here knew as they walked that their feet were massaging winter seeds.