Earlier today I stood alongside leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities to dedicate a new sacred space at Dayton Children’s Hospital – a beautiful outdoor labyrinth. This special occasion had me reflect on all of the different roads we take, knowing that most of them come with twists and turns. There are times in our lives when the path forward feels impossible to find. Like children in a corn maze, we race along a path that is unclear. At each turn are false starts, dead ends, new obstacles, and unscalable walls. And we never quite know how near we are to the end.
A maze like this is the opposite of a labyrinth. Whereas a maze is built to frustrate and confuse, the circular shape of a labyrinth encourages tranquility, wholeness and holiness in our world. A labyrinth welcomes us and encourages us to find its center. It offers us order in place of chaos, freedom in place of barriers, hope in place of fear.
A labyrinth is a metaphor. For our lives, our spirituality, and our journeys.
It invites us to discover a new way. By entering the path, pausing in the center and returning back again, we emerge with newfound perspective. All of the twists and turns may lead us in unplanned directions. Though we may feel like we are going around in circles, our circuitous paths lead us forward, one step at a time and at our own paces, away from distraction and toward wholeness, shleimut and peace, shalom.
In the Talmud, we learn of the legendary Honi Ha-Me’agal (Honi the circle maker) from the period of the Second Temple. Honi, known as a miracle worker, would draw circles on the ground to separate the sacred found within it, from the profane located beyond it. Labyrinths remind us of that which is truly sacred – the peace we find in the center, outlined by circles of community, family, and spirituality.
For me, the center is often found in community, like our Temple Israel family. Tomorrow is our annual meeting. While it is not quite the same as a labyrinth, I do hope you will join me as we come together to hear from our leaders about the congregational path we traveled this past year. Among our sacred community, we will look back at where we’ve been, look forward to where we are going, thank and honor those who have help bring us closer to our destination, and welcome aboard those who are new to the work.
May you find the center of your journey inspiring enough to turn around and have the courage to reflect on how you made it that far. Together, we can share this road ahead, one step at a time.