by Courtney Mullaney
In college, I was required to take a philosophy course my freshman year. I must admit that I dozed through most of it, but I did read the majority of Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This was long before yoga was a trend and all things Eastern buzzwords, so I had no idea what the concept of “Zen” was when I started the book. What I took from that book, that class, was the concept of ritual as meditation – repetition to strive for perfection, knowing it will never be attained, but seeing value in basic work – in that case, motorcycle maintenance.
I was unsure of what to expect in the Labyrinth class – I was intrigued and open. As Father Mike and Ron Hitchcock introduced the concepts, gave us some basic structure; I was more intrigued. I found, however, that I was thinking maybe this was something I would be more comfortable doing solitary, but I plunged on into the path. It was crowded. . . but solitary. The energy of concentration, of meditation, of practicing Zen, was sparking through the path. I can liken this to any group-worship experience – a sharing of hearts, a channeling of Spirit, like minds bowed as one, yet the exact lessons, prayers and offerings are ours alone – ours and God’s. The path of the labyrinth mirrors a life of faith – twists and turns, always circling the goal and once the goal is reached, knowing that there is still work to be done.
I chose a short quote from the hand-out provided on which repeat to myself in order to prevent straying to my grocery list:
All the way to God is God.
— Catherine of Siena
Is this not a Zen concept? Our trials and experiences are of God, also leading us to God. Our solitary journey is of God and leading us to God. Our communal journey at St. Martin-in-the-Fields is of God and is leading us to God. Part of this journey is making room for others on a similar path, not rushing and letting our prayers guide us to the center of ourselves to find God and let go of the blistering pace of this world.