Last week I spent an afternoon in downtown Santa Fe–the city of ‘Holy Faith’–with CHB’s family. After a long day of shopping and eating and poking in and out of backroads, we welcomed ourselves into the foyer of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and listened to the priest’s haunting and dissonant chants, each ‘amen’ vibrating off the nostrils of a gold leafed Mary and her Byzantine Jesus.
Outside of the Cathedral, embedded into the church grounds, I found a large and sinuous labyrinth; its curves and folds inviting all to enter. Unlike mazes, labyrinths are composed of one continuous path from the outside edge to the center. There is no riddle to solve or trick to outwit. A labyrinth is presented as a metaphor for the strait and narrow path disciples of Christ are asked to follow. The disciple walks along the path in reverence and meditation until she reaches the heart of God. At points in the journey she may be mere inches from the center until an unexpected twist takes her further towards the margins. If she commits to the journey, though, the disciple will eventually reach her divine conclusion.
As I walked the curvilinear path–inching closer and then further from the center at every turn–I thought about our personal relationships to God. I’m certain that each of us have had moments in our lives where we felt so close to God that we could almost taste His light on our tongues and feel His full and heady weight resting in our limbs. And I’m certain that each of us have had moments where we’ve felt so far away that we couldn’t ascertain anything of His presence but the smallest of pricks, a mere pinch on the elbow. Regardless of how close or far we are from the heart of God at any point in time, I believe that all will be well as long as we continue to move forward on the labyrinthine path. It only matters that we continue to move forward with reverence and meditation. It only matters that we continue to move forward with holy faith.
And so I have some questions for those of us who have chosen to walk this path of discipleship–a path that will take each of us through vistas and valleys, sunlight and shadows. Can we be kind to each other as we journey along? Can we give our fellow travelers enough room to walk in reverence and meditation and holy faith without stepping on their heels in frustration or looking over their shoulders in judgement–even if our pace or stride may differ from their’s? Can we help a fellow traveler along who is stuck, questioning, and can’t figure out how to move forward, even if we ourselves are weary? Can we widen the path a bit, opening up space for humanness and fragility without feeling threatened by others’ differences or struggles? Can we recognize that although some of us are closer to the heart of God and others are further away, we are all still traveling the path and that, in and of itself, is a victory?
I hope we can do these things, as we are all in need of charity, understanding, and camaraderie as we commit to the arduous labyrinth that is Christianity. The journey is so much harder–perhaps near impossible–if we are not buoyed up by those who have chosen to walk with us. In reverence. In meditation. In holy faith. I hope we can do these things.