It isn’t a giant corn maze, as one person thought.
It isn’t a picnic happening on the lawn of a church.
It is a time for connecting with God, oneself, and the world around us.
Our unofficial tradition is now to have something different in the lawn of the Cathedral at some point during Holy Week. Last year, it was three days of a contemporary retelling of the Stations of the Cross. This year, I wanted to do a labyrinth.
Today, from noon until just before this evenings Solemn High Mass, I sat on the lawn with four giant sheets transformed into an angular labyrinth with multiple places for walkers to stop and meditate on the words in their booklet and interact with objects placed in their path.
A good number of the people who walk through the lawn on a daily basis stopped to at least take a better look and ask what was going on.
A few people came back for a second look; some took part, others walked on.
For me, the point, and the most rewarding part, were the conversations I had with people before and after they walked. That is why I did this: to spark conversations. Some said it was the breath they needed in Holy Week. (Why do we cram our holiest times so full that those of us who work, priest or lay, in the church do not have time to stop and get as much out of the season as we might otherwise?) Others expressed joy at the reminders it gave at our connections with those around us.
One walker made particular mention of her appreciation of Noise/City. In station Noise, near the beginning of the Inward Journey of the labyrinth, the walker is encouraged to think of all the noise/messages/information that fill our lives and compete for attention… the noise around them as they walked in a space in the middle of the city… to turn off and put aside the noise, the internal thoughts that never stop, the worries… to focus on God and peace…
In station City, near the end of the Outward Journey of labyrinth, noise is flipped:
All ground is holy ground – city streets, housing estates, shantytowns, playgrounds, prisons, shopping malls… Listen again to the sounds of the city. This time, instead of seeing them as noise and distraction, see them as opportunities to tune in to the workings of our city. See the people behind these noises as individuals, as people with whom to meet and engage.
How often do we stop to consider the human behind the face we pass by?
This thought was especially poignant for me after my morning today: I spent the morning riding along with someone who works with those recovering from addictions. After this morning, I have a much more human face to put onto those suffering from addictions. “These people” are often not the wrecked old man who sits on the corner, begging for money, though they may be. They are your friend’s brother who has made a few wrong choices and just needs to have a friend to walk beside him as he recovers. They are the successful professional who works beside you in the office. They may be you.