As I began my walk at the outdoor labyrinth at a retreat center on this exceptionally warm January morning, I reflected on the last experience. It was World Labyrinth Day 2018. God had walked with me as I sought a solution to a thorny situation. Should I walk away, risking a $200 down payment and my reputation? Or should I do nothing and stay? The answer had come quickly on the contemplative, focused stroll.
Almost 2 years later, I was once again walking a labyrinthine maze, seeking balm or a word from God. Losses weighed me down. The death, 3 days earlier, of a somewhat forgotten and troubled brother left me distressed. Ozzie and I had not kept in touch, not spoken in over 2 years. We had not quarreled – just lived in different worlds. He was a good and generous man but often managed to get into disastrous conflicts. Now we were planning his funeral. I regretted how I had judged him for the perceived mistakes he had made. As I walked I was confronted with the knowledge that I could have been more – more kind, more patience, more present. The loss was not mine alone to bear. But I was deeply affected. I lamented not taking the opportunity to offer counsel and support to my brother. I had left that to his other siblings.
The day after my brother’s death, my Samsung s6 had a meltdown. Minutes later, 3000 photos accumulated over 4 years of travel and across 11 countries were erased. And yes, I must be the only person in the world who had not backed anything up on a laptop or external drive. The wireless store salesman, in between selling me on an upgrade, suggested a place on 1st Avenue where the pictures possibly could be recovered for a hefty price. But that was not an option. I had a funeral to help pay for. My pragmatic side knew the pictures were secondary, but the loss still stung. A cherished part of my story was gone. I was overwhelmed and pensive. I was living in that head space where more trouble and danger was coming.
What next, God?
A gust of wind rustled nearby branches and lifted a few of the dried leaves on the grass near my path. I stood still in that moment. And as if out of nowhere came the words…Nothing matters but the sustaining love of God. I looked down and my feet had come to the end of the prayer walk.
If only momentary, I felt comforted. Death and loss are part of the journey and will be encountered from time to time. But I was not alone.
Jesus said “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20