February 22, 2008

Labyrinth Ghosts

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:25 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

From May through October our worship faces north, into the woods, but in the bright bareness of winter all the chairs face west.  That north wall of the UU sanctuary in Muncie is all glass (at least for a third of the way up).  The east wall of the room is brick with three spaces for doors and one half the brick is hidden behind a wooden set of screens on which we have displayed the early history of our church (1859 to ~1900).   On Wednesday we took out several back rows of chairs and made a “U” of chairs on the south side that opened to a labyrinth.  One of my talented lay-leaders took brown paper bags, added sand and tea-lights and arranged them in a meandering line that began in the south and ended in the center with a small “loop” of about seven luminaria.  That night, when we turned off most of the overhead lights, the room was beautiful.  After some readings, a song and a little homily (about how life looks like a maze when we begin, but more like a labyrinth when we look back on our journey) we walked through the dark and silence; always keeping the little lights on one’s left.  Thus we walked on either side of the line, in and out again.  It was simple and elegant.  To the north we could see reflections of ourselves walking beyond the glass out in the woods, like ghosts walking where the near full moonlight illuminating the snow and tree trunks.  I have walked labyrinths in Oregon and New Mexico, Colorado and Ohio, on a bright clear morning and at sunset.  Sometimes it is a simple, uninspiring act.  Other times such walks get me thinking, or they awaken in me a sense of harmony and peace.  Sometimes they remind me of ancient earth-centered worship, other times of Christian pilgrimage to a Holy place, or the Sufi ‘journey to the beloved.’  Of my three favorite labyrinths all were temporary.  The first I made in the dry grass of a West Texas winter with lines of corn-meal.  The second was made of planters and lights on a high hill overlooking a river.  The third was in the Muncie UU Church Sanctuary this past Wednesday night.  The only sorrow for me was that there were so few people there to appreciate it.