Walking the Path

by Flo Gascon

There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.  -- From The Matrix

Tonight I walked a path of my very own.  It was truly the most spiritual experience I have had inside a church in many, many years.  And no one spoke a word. There was no sermon, no hymns, no prayer.  What I heard was soft music resonating like a gong, occasional deep breaths, and the varied shuffling of feet.  I was in a labyrinth among strangers, alone with myself.  I knew that labyrinths had a reputation for their meditative quality and felt the evening walk was an appropriate way to shed this year.  I did not expect the experience I received.

Beautiful in its simplicity, simply profound in its effect, I have a new love affair with the labyrinth.

There were flickering candles surrounding the outer ring and in the inner flower.  It was fairly dark and the room felt drafty.  The path was clearly marked on the floor, modeled after the famous Chartres Cathedral in France.  As I entered the room, I chose a card from a table, not having any idea what they were.  I glanced at mine, which said Tenderness.  The woman next to me explained that whatever card you choose is the message you are meant to receive and pointed to a book to look up my message.  I grabbed the book and immediately wished I could record the words I was reading because they perfectly supported the thoughts I've been having over the past few days. Divine intervention?

My message in a nutshell: Consult my own counsel and proceed from inner strength.  Let go of what the mind believes and embrace that which the spirit knows to be true.  Each experience is a reflection of primordial wisdom that the inner self already holds. Intuitive, creative communication includes acceptance of other individuals' opinions. Leave space for allowing the other person to believe what they believe just as strongly as I hold my beliefs.  Relationships need to be more playful, yet still deeper.  I have entered a decade of rapid change and if my relationships are to survive, I must change my communication to allow for trust and acceptance.  Tenderness is the foundation for all of this.

As I entered the labyrinth I could only focus on my feet and staying on the path.  I did not know which direction I was heading since I kept turning and felt it impossible to follow any pattern.  I only knew that I would end at the center and the direction did not matter.  As I walked I became meditative with no effort other than putting one foot in front of the other.  My mind focused on that message I had received.  I sometimes became aware of people in my path that required some navigation, and oh, those cute shoes!, but I returned to my thoughts easily.  My own counsel, inner strength, primordial wisdom.  By the time I reached the center, I felt much calmer than when I began.  When I stopped walking, I closed my eyes and realized that I felt rooted to the ground.  I had found my place and I didn't want to leave.  After some deep breaths and allowing my thoughts to settle I moved onward, retracing my steps back to the entrance.  On the way out, I felt that something had shifted inside of me.  Intuition, trust, acceptance. Playfulness.  I was on the same path, but I had a lightness and I felt I was shedding layers along the way, letting go of that which I no longer needed.

Tonight was one big metaphor for life.  There were several people walking with me.  We were all on the same path; we all got to the center, the same place.  But the journey itself was unique to each.  Some walked faster, some in socks, some smiled, some prayed, some in high heeled boots, one in a foot cast.  People met me on their way out and got in my way, or I was in their way.  Some were experienced in this act, some young, some frail.  We each had our own thoughts, our own histories, our own goals, our own needs.  We still all got to the same place.  There is one light, but the ways are many.

I reached the center in my own way.  I felt grounded and peaceful and with new insights into myself.  As I retraced my steps I felt that I was leaving something unknown behind.  When I exited I realized that what I was left with was myself.  Just me.  No matter what happens on my path, I need to be satisfied with the way I walk it, in the moment, with an awareness that when it is complete, I can't make that same journey again.  I have to find my own happiness through my own steps. I can find happiness with my family, but not through them.  And the same is true for them, as they own their unique path.  With this insight, I wanted to walk again immediately.  I was satisfied, but I felt the need to do it again.  I know that each time will be different.  There is always more for me to understand, no matter how much I gain, there is always more, always farther to go.

This past year brought the best that life has to offer, real emotion.  I have walked through real fear, my intuition muddled by what my brain believed.  Felt immense joy at watching my girls grow as we had several "firsts" in our lives this year.  I have had deep doubts, concerns, created complications with my worries.  Something a friend said to me this year has inspired me to carry it forth: The simplest answer is usually the right one.  Things are generally not as hard as they sometimes seem.  Life is pretty darn good.  I'm trying to let go of my old patterns and let life unfold; let it be complicated when it gets complicated, but not before.  Allowing myself to let life be simple, easy, right.  Instead of searching for the rightness, realizing that it already is.  This new year feels like a time of breaking free for me.  I am noticing a shift that requires boldness and being.  I did shed something tonight in that labyrinth, layers of wasted energy and judgment.  There will be more shedding to follow as I practice this new insight and move into deeper avenues.

Tonight I was exactly where I needed to be, at each point on that path, as were all the people surrounding me.  I cannot understand their journey, as they cannot understand mine.  I am walking my path, no one else's matters.  Until, of course, our paths cross, then negotiation and communication comes into play, but not judgment.  Space.

Knowing the path vs. walking the path.  It's like knowing that all kids are different.  But you don't get it until you have two kids.  Then you walk the path; fully understand what that means, and judgment starts slipping away.  The parenting and the child that you once tsk tsked is now your own.

Knowing the path vs. walking the path.  Some say you don't know what you've got until it's gone.  But no, it isn't about realizing what you had in the absence of something.  You don't know what you've got until you get it.  Until you walk it.  I don't know how full my heart can be until I fill it.  I don't know my strength until I find it and use it.  It is about embracing the richness you possess by claiming it.  You climb the mountain because you can instead of climbing the mountain while you can.

Knowing the path vs. walking the path. I want to live life because that is living, not because I don't want to have regrets someday.  Today is all I have and I want it to be full of whatever I need today.  It is my responsibility and mine alone to fill that cup and in the coming year I will.  In the process I will walk, run, jump, dance, smile, sing, cry, shout, fall, learn, fail, please, disappoint, and love on my path.  I am sure I will worry some, too, but I will remember that the simplest answer is usually the right one.  That my deepest self knows the answer and it will be revealed if I trust and let go.  My relationships will deepen if I allow space for individuality and embrace the diversity that is humanity.  I will grow if I just get out of my own way.  Living is not about looking back but looking ahead.

The coming year is a time to be a verb.

Breathe, Be and Become.

2008 Copyright by Flo Gascon

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