This article appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health.
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m awake, exhausted, my mind and heart tangled in a conflict with a close friend. Eventually, I give in. I sit up in the darkness and reach for the wooden finger labyrinth beside my bed. Placing the labyrinth on my lap, I find the entrance by touch, say a prayer for guidance and comfort, and begin to trace the cool smooth grooves with my left index finger. As my finger hits what feels in the darkness like one dead end after another, only to find that each is simply a turn in the labyrinth, my mind begins to ease. I breathe more deeply. My body lets go.
Within a few minutes my finger arrives at center, and I rest there. For me the center is T. S. Eliot’s still point of the turning world. It is the deep recesses of my own heart and soul. It is a place of God, whose circumference is nowhere. Here, what’s left of my knotty problem untangles into an invitation to deepened compassion and understanding for both my friend and myself.
I breathe a prayer of gratitude into the rich and silent darkness and mindf …
Melissa West, M.A., is a psychologist and program manager for Harmony Hill Retreat Center. She is the author of Exploring the Labyrinth: A Guide for Healingand Spiritual Growth (Broadway Books, 2000), and Silver Linings (Fair Winds Press, 2003) about trauma as a catalyst for an extraordinary life.