Walking my way through
I did it. It's something I've promised myself I would do. It's one of the few things I've really known I wanted to do for awhile. I finally went to Jackson Madison County General Hospital to walk the labyrinth. They've added so much to the hospital since the last time I was there, including the labyrinth, that I had to ask how to get there. The young man in the lobby wasn't quite sure either, but together we found it.
It's tucked away between three buildings and called the Serenity Garden. The hospital is a high traffic area, but the garden is hidden away enough to be quiet. At the entrance to the garden is a statue of an angel, a dedication plaque to the former president of the hospital and his wife, and an invitation to remember those in need "with a direct intention to God." The labyrinth looks like it was made of gray granite pavers with brick red borders. It's surrounded by large bushes and has four benches around it.
When I started, I took a deep breath and started walking. The other day, I read something from one of my preacher friends who said that her anxiety grows when she's walking inward on a labyrinth. I don't know if it was the power of suggestion or one of the daily, small scale menopausal panic attacks I've been having, or what, but my heart rate shot through the roof. I started pouring sweat even though I wasn't hot. My mind was bumping from thought to thought, and I kept trying to force myself to focus.
I found that I was calmer on the longer, straighter stretches, but when the turns came more frequently, I was more anxious. It was there that I started thinking about how I'd write about this, or what I need to do tomorrow, and then I felt guilty that I couldn't keep a prayer going for any length of time. I felt superficial for thinking about how I'd share this, when I really wanted to experience it. Midway on my way in, I gave up on trying to focus on any intention and just started mentally repeating, "All is well. All is well, and all manner of things shall be well." The repetitive chant helped. My steps slowed, and the interrupting thoughts were easier to push away.
When I got to the center of the labyrinth, surrounding the center circle, I found another plaque embedded in the ground of center circle. This one brought me to a stop. On it was "Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10. On Sunday, the day a little clarity and peace came to me, this was the verse that kept repeating itself in my mind.
My way out of the labyrinth was easier. No panic. No flop sweat. I didn't mind the curves, twists and turns. Over and over, I repeated, "Be still and know that I am God." It surprised me that the way out seemed longer than the way in. When I finished, I took a seat on one of the benches and just sat for awhile. I enjoyed the breeze and the feeling of seclusion. I took another deep breath, got up to leave, and the toe of my shoe caught between the stones under the benches and the edge of the labyrinth, and I fell to my knees.
When I stood up, I was laughing, and I left the hospital with a smile on my face. I want to do this again. When I figure out to upload pictures from the iPad, I'll post them here.