I drove through the gates of the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California in search of its labyrinth. I had heard of the Center's quiet beauty and contemplative spirit from friends who had personally experienced it, but my trips to nearby San Francisco were few and far between. With Drew's new job in Menlo Park, I suddenly found myself a convenient 25 miles away.
The sun had begun to filter through leaves onto the labyrinth's path when I arrived at 8:30. Two women were placing signs throughout the turns for a group walk later that morning. I sat impatiently on a neighboring bench, eager for them to finish so the labyrinth and I could spend some private time together.
When I finally stepped onto the sandy path and began circling, I purposefully ignored the signs. I wasn't interested in a theme-based walk, where I was encouraged to contemplate a suggested topic. My aim was to remain "open" as I walked, allowing whatever thoughts that bubbled up to lead me where I needed to be. But try as I might to look away, my sideways glances increased. Perhaps remaining open meant paying attention to what was in front of me.
I quickly caught on that a key word was repeated in each message, and that it was no kumbaya kind of word. It packed a punch.
a sense of purpose
a refusal to accept or confirm... despair
.My own sense of hopefulness had been waning of late. Just that morning I had angrily switched off the car radio, tuning out news of yet another senseless mass shooting. Then there's climate change, inhumanity at immigration borders, ongoing poverty and homelessness, prejudice, racial injustice. . . The list can seem neverendingly dismal.
And yet, the messages surrounding me confirmed that hope is more than an illusive state of mind, a vague wish that things could somehow get better. Its strength is in active practice.
I stepped out of the labyrinth's center with a quickened pace and a spark of hope that felt powerful.
Returning to the bench, I opened my journal and wrote a question on the next blank page:
How can I practice hope in my daily life?
I invite you to join me.