Show Us the Way . . . Walking with Jesus

The Laurel Heights labyrinth draws from a centuries-old practice of essentially going in circles in order to experience God’s nearness, determine a direction for our lives, or arrive at something understood.

Solvitur ambulando is a Latin phrase attributed to St. Augustine, 5thcentury bishop of Hippo that means “it is solved by walking around.” The phrase was often placed near entrances to circular labyrinths as an invitation to the practice. But how is anything solved by walking around, by going in circles? The idea strikes us as counterintuitive and even counterproductive.

The wisdom of the ages is that this is precisely the point of a labyrinth—to lift us briefly from the routine ways we proceed from point A to point B in order to give us a clearer set of coordinates for our journey. “By indirection,” Shakespeare wrote, “find directions out.”

We have a shining example of going in circles in Jesus of Nazareth. If we trace Jesus’ steps in ministry as narrated by the gospel writers we plot a zigzag, looped-around, meandering course that only toward its end finds a more linear focus as Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).

We might say that to travel along the labyrinth is to trace the footsteps of Jesus. Put another way, it is to allow time and opportunity for God to enter our thoughts, emotions and frame in a way that lead us to deeper awareness of God’s presence, purpose, and power in our lives.

One year the church I served had a Vacation Bible School theme of “walking with Jesus” during which, in the course of the morning, children were invited to walk a labyrinth. The idea that this practice was a way of being close to God—that walking the labyrinth was like walking with Jesus—must have registered. One day during Bible school I overheard a young boy named Browning ask his older brother as they were leaving the building, “Did you get to walk with Jesus today?”

I invite you to walk with Jesus by traveling the labyrinth at Laurel Heights during the season of Lent. Consider it a playful exploration of an ancient and trusted practice; consider it a personal spiritual exercise; consider it your part in our congregational practice of listening for God’s guidance and direction as we journey through the season of Lent, moving from dying to rising, from death to resurrection.

Grace and peace.