Yesterday morning I spent several hours at The Center for Action and Contemplation, (CAC) and walked their labyrinth. It’s HOT in Albuquerque right now. I wanted to walk the labyrinth before the heat set in. What a unexpected blessing to discover that CAC has a labyrinth, with an intriguing name, The Dancing Christ. CAC is home for Fr. Richard Roher. Fr. Roher is a Franciscan priest and I’ve been praying his daily email devotions for a couple of years now. I’m drawn to his contemplative prayers. I never realized Albuquerque is his home. I was excited to find CAC on the world wide labyrinth locator.
I left with plenty of time to find it. I got there at about 8:15 am. The visitors center did not open until 9 am. I wasn’t sure what to do and I saw that the gate that led to a garden was open.
I peeked in and decided surely they won’t mind if I just sit here and wait until they open. Beautiful tiles over the door way, with YHWH on them greeted me. YHWH is the Hebrew word for God. I kind of took it as God saying, come on in, take a seat. I found a spot at a picnic table. The morning air was still cool and refreshing. I sat down and just took in this beautiful space. After some moments of prayerful meditation I got up and walked around the garden . I found the labyrinth and a peace pole. Seeing both caused me to just want to stand there for a few moments, to take it in.
At 9 am I went into the visitor’s center to see if I needed to check in and hoped they didn’t mind me just sitting in the garden until they opened. The gentlemen had the most non-anxious and peaceful presence of anyone I’ve met in a long time. Of course it was fine for me to use the garden. He went on to say that if I’m ever in the area again, during weekdays, Fr. Roher leads a guided meditation at 8:30 am. While I was sitting in the garden with my own prayers, Fr. Roher was inside leading a guided meditation. At first I was disappointed but reminded myself of one of my many hopes of this sabbatical time…to know what happens is what needs to happen and in the words of Julien of Norwich: All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well. All was well. I had time in the garden to prepare my heart for what will be a deep deep spirit felt labyrinth walk.
I walked back out to the garden and went straight to the labyrinth. I’ve developed a sort of ritual for my entrance to a labyrinth. I stop right at the entrance, breath in and out, deep strong breaths, 3 times. This time this beginning centering time was easy. At the entrance to the labyrinth was a large wooden cross.
My experience on this labyrinth was unexpected. My prayers and meditation took me to a deeper place of contemplation. Releasing the need to always be accomplishing or producing something was my immediate prayer. I held my hands open as a symbolic gesture to let go. As I walked I began to think about what it would look like to dance with Christ. I kept thinking about the rhyming of dancing. When you dance with a partner you both could be doing your own moves, it is the rhythm, the heartbeat if you will, that keeps you together. Or you could be holding on to one another, moving with one another, in partnership. The rhythm, movement and flow of the dance are shared.
Dancing with another can be difficult. It require a lot of communication. I remember when my brother tried to teach me to dance. I was in my 20’s, he was in his 30’s. He tried to teach me the 2 Step. Oh boy! It was awkward and very forced. We continuously kept stepping on each other’s toes. I can remember the force of his hands trying to lead me in the same direction he was moving. It was like I was fighting it, trying to go in my direction. I was trying to go in one direction and my brother was trying to move in another. Finally he put his hands down and said: “Will you stop! You don’t know what you are doing. Just let me lead you and teach you.”
Just let me lead you and teach you. Whoa!
This seems to be the rising lesson at the beginning of my sabbatical time. I’m also thinking it is a lesson Jesus has been trying to teach me for while. I said yes to Join the dance with Jesus so many years ago. We have danced through so many life’s journeys. He’s danced me though love, loss, birth, moves, worries, fears and so many celebrations. I believe now, even during those times I thought I was dancing alone he was near by dancing with me.
I think in this season of life Jesus is trying to teach me a new dance. And just like I did with my brother, I keep trying to lead. My spiritual life was beginning to feel forced and awkward. He’s telling me: “Just stop. You don’t know everything. Let me lead. Let me teach you something new.”
At the center of the Labyrinth of the Dancing Christ, many have left an item. Like on other labyrinths, they could be something symbolic that the walker desire to release and leave behind. I’m hoping I left behind my desire to lead the dance.
It’s a scary path to walk for this girl who too often feels the need to be the one leading and controlling which direction to take. This scary path is also sacred. I’m working to stop. I’m seeking to let Christ lead this next dance. You know, it’s almost a relief. There is joy to be found in this dance.
My prayer for you today is that you too find joy in the dance.
Peace and blessings on this sacred walk.