Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toronto (3) Walking a labyrinth

Staying in Toronto gave opportunity to walk through this city of many happy memories. I was especially intrigued by something new. A public labyrinth has been created (in 2005) based on the model in Chartres Cathedral. Colored blocks are set into the pavement floor, leading walkers on an interesting journey of 11 circuits until they reach the center. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends. Rather it encourages you to move at your own pace and when you reach the middle to spend as long as you wish.

The public instructions described it as an ancient symbol of pilgrimage and journey and invited people to begin with a question or intention and move quietly along its route. A couple of things struck me as I followed its pattern.

1) It took much longer that I thought it would. Several times I thought I was close enough to walk into the center, only to turn away and wind around and around. It greatly surprised me that I was walking for around 20 minutes (not all that slowly either), and while I walked I really was quietened in mind and heart. Actually I was thinking about my journey with Jesus Christ, and pondering how the questions he asks do not lead to short cuts but to deeper understanding. It all proved much more of a 'journey' than I thought.

2) It is situated just outside the very busy Eaton Center in the heart of Toronto which is packed with shoppers and surrounded by businesses. One or two people were watching me on the sidelines but nobody else joined in the exercise while I was there. I thought of the sharp contrast between a contemplative discipline and its opportunity to be quiet and the noisy busy world just a short distance away.

I am glad I spent time this way. I can still picture the slow journey looping backwards and forwards….all the time making progress and yet slowing me down. It gave me a surprising opportunity for reflection. We all need times like this, don't we?

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