Sunday, May 31, 2015

Controlling the Horizontal and the Vertical

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture….We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.” So begins the old science fiction television show The Outer Limits. I was reminded of these words a few weeks ago while walking the labyrinth set into the floor of a local church.

A labyrinth is different from a maze in that there is only one path in and out, with no decisions to be made about which way to go and no chance of getting lost in it. It is symbolic of life’s journey, with its twists and turns and surprises, with a goal that sometimes seems so close only to have the path turn away from it and go in a different direction, and that sometimes seems so far away yet is only a few more turns from the center.

Walking a labyrinth is about giving up control and following a line that someone else has put before us. People set so much stock in being in control, even those who don’t usually label themselves as “control freaks.”  But the labyrinth reminds us that we are not in control at all. We are only following the path set out for us by God. We may feel like we’re in a maze when we come to a fork in the road or a decision to be made, but ultimately every twist and turn leads us exactly where God intended all along. It’s a liberating thought if we allow it to be - the labyrinth frees us from worry about what to do, because all there is to do is put one foot in front of the other along a set path. It frees us to listen, to pray, to rest, to really observe what is going on within and around us.

If we continue to listen to the television show’s opening, we are admonished to sit back and relax because we were no longer in control and then we are told, “You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to The Outer Limits.” Again, how fitting those words are. Walking a labyrinth can indeed be a great adventure, discovering with awe and mystery everything from peace and calm to great spiritual truths that normally can’t find their way through the noise and chaos produced by all the things we do to maintain the appearance of control. And outside of the labyrinth, life certainly is an adventure.

I pray that I may remember the lessons of the labyrinth more often. I need to do more listening, more looking, more following, and less trying to be in control so that I don’t miss the awe and mystery that God puts before me every step of the way in this amazing journey.

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