Last week, I hosted a labyrinth walk in Austin, TX. Twenty-two people made their way along the winding path of my portable labyrinth. Some were walking slowly, some backwards, some dancing, some twirling. Some were crying, some were laughing. All were moved during their pilgrimage in JW Grand Salon 3-4 at the JW Marriott Austin.
A hotel ballroom and a canvas labyrinth ringed with battery-powered tea lights may seem an unlikely place for a pilgrimage, but I’ve learned over time that pilgrimages take place in the most unlikely of settings. Whether there’s walking involved or not, we set out on a path, leaving the unknown. We experience a “road of trials” (think: Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey) in the form of twists and turns. We arrive at a quieter place, at the heart of things. In the labyrinth, it’s often the center (but not always). We receive information – a feeling, a word, a knowing, an emotion, a decision – that we take with us as we make our way back to the place or community from whence we came. We’re the same, and yet not at all.
Pilgrimages are intentional. We set out to learn something, to find a rich experience that will inform our lives. They don’t always have to involve a long trek or even a walk, but they’re good for our souls. Where will you go on your next pilgrimage?