Dec. 11: Circular thinking

Dec. 11: Second Monday of Advent

They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus (Lk 5:18-19).

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Earlier this fall, while visiting friends in the countryside, I had the chance to walk a small and beautiful labyrinth that they had built with their own hands on a hillock, with stones from a nearby lake. On a quiet Saturday morning, while the others in our party were occupied, I stood at the labyrinth’s start and set out towards the center—and in short order the path took me away from the center.

While I had anticipated this, I felt strangely nonplussed that I could not get straight through. I almost turned back, not wanting to “waste” time walking in circles. But then I decided to surrender to the process, trusting that my journey along the winding path would eventually draw me to the center and to the One I sought, and that the journey itself would somehow be salutary. I walked slowly on, keeping the image of Christ fixed in my mind and my heart. I thought about the twists and turns my own spiritual journey had taken: wilderness periods, forward progress and hopeful times when I felt I was getting closer to God, only to turn away again. Eventually, of course, I arrived at the center.

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that sometimes the direct route to God will not be open to us. When the faithful companions could not get straight through to Jesus with their paralyzed friend, they did not stop; they simply embraced indirection. Like theirs, our path may be roundabout. But if we walk in faith, we will find God at the center.

Lord of the winding way, Give me the patient trust I need to find my way to you through the winding journey of my life. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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