I'm not a hardcore runner. I only run a mile. Walk a couple more. One before my run, one after. I don't call running "church". It's just what I do on a nice Sunday. I walk a mile to the track near my house, run a mile, walk a mile home.
There's a church next to the track I run on, though. I walk right past it. It's Presbyterian. They have a brick labyrinth out on their lawn. I walk it sometimes on my way home. It adds a tiny bit to my workout. It’s relaxing.
I’ve always liked meditative labyrinths. There’s no challenge to them, really. They’re meant to symbolize the confusing nature of the world, but there’s only one way to go once you’re on the path. Don’t want the devout getting lost. But the maze isn’t the point. You’re just supposed to walk and think. I can’t think about anything but my puffing and wheezing when I run. Walking lets my mind wander. I can think on the labyrinth.
There’s a lot of symbolism wrapped up in the maze. It’s supposed to show how to make your way out of the physical world and find the spiritual. It’s a nice message. I like the way you end up walking toward everything around you. Don’t keep looking down. Keep your head up and just walk. The labyrinth will eventually turn you around to face every which way. You walk to and from everything in your line of sight. Then you come to the middle.
The Presbyterians have a nice marble cross in the center of their labyrinth. It’s a handsome milky white. They keep it clean and mostly smooth. I can’t really argue with the cross, but it’s not why I’m there. I like the idea of the center by itself. Some great OM, maybe. Anyway, it’s peaceful. I wrote this in my head standing there today. I think my favorite symbolism of the maze came to me then.
I haven’t read too deeply into all the meanings of the labyrinth. Not sure if this is codified or not. It struck me that the most meaningful part of the ritual isn’t finding the center. It’s leaving. After walking that path you find the spiritual center. Then what? Do you walk back out the same way? That would take too much time. Bad symbolism there, too. Instead, you just walk away. You ignore all those lines on the ground you imagined you couldn’t cross before. It’s all a construct that’s served its purpose.
I don’t need the labyrinth anymore when I’m done. I step over the lines you’re not supposed to step over and go home. I usually get breakfast after that.