My Perfect Labyrinth

Have you ever had a time when you just felt in sync with where and what you should be doing? Last weekend was wonderful that way. Don’t get me wrong, it was also exhausting. But, sometimes, the two things can coexist.

We had a board meeting on Saturday for Quaker House. I had worked hard and had two extra reports that represented significant effort and had, likewise, required quite a bit of attention to detail. I stayed up late the night before to make the house more accommodating to the dog sitter spending some time here and left early in the morning for the two-hour drive. The board meeting went well. I am always amazed by the dedication of our board members.

I got to my hotel room, let my daughter know I was out of the board meeting and to text me when I could come over, and them promptly crashed, full out, in the bed, under the covers. When my daughter texted, I went over to her place to spend a few hours catching up with her and my son-in-law. I love spending time with them. Amazing, crazy, motivated kids who keep me on my toes intellectually with their insights into their world and their open hearts.

Sunday, I got to go to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and to Worship with Spring Friends. I have not worshiped with them since August and I have missed them! During the business meeting, a local cat was wandering around in the snow and was welcomed in to share our breakfast, warmth, and discussions.

Cat acting as assistant recording clerk.

Finally, before beginning the two-hour drive back to Fayettteville, I had seen the pleasant forecast and brought a change of clothes so that I could visit the Shallow Ford Trail again. I have not found my perfect trail in Fayetteville, and I was really missing Shallow Ford. Two people warned me, “It’ll be muddy and wet.” “It’s okay. I brought my muddy and wet shoes.” The second I stepped onto the foot bridge over a tiny creek that begins the trail and heard the gurgling of the water over bits of ice and rocks, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Shallow Ford, like many trails through wooded areas, winds back and forth and round and about. It goes uphill and downhill. Sometimes, there are trees that have come down and have not been cleared away, yet.

We have mindfulness classes at Quaker House and, the first Thursday of the month, Holy Trinity opens their beautiful labyrinth to the public. That labyrinth is peaceful and serene. It makes up the floor of the sanctuary, is lit by votive candles artistically placed around it, and you can hear the trickling water of the baptismal font. It leaves nothing to be desired in beauty and in inviting a clear mind.

I have also walked an outdoor labyrinth at Stony Point Center in New York. It is simpler, but makes up for that simpleness by being outside.

I have been trying to love labyrinths, to confine my feet to their intricate patterns. But, now I finally realize, my perfect labyrinth is laid out in the winding trails through wooded areas along rivers and tributaries, up hills and down slopes, over rocks and around occasionally fallen trees. My perfect labyrinth is of the more wild variety.



Could This Theology Work?

I do not normally listen to podcasts.

I prefer reading because I can skim over parts and linger over others. I am glad I made an exception.

Two excerpts made an impression on me. (They are quoted out of order.)

This first excerpt made an impression on me because I think we can judge everything we do and think in the name of religious belief by this same standard:


“I had a wonderful theology professor that said,

‘If you have a theology that does not appeal to
a brown woman in a third-world country,
what good is your theology?’

And so I often say to myself, when I preach a sermon,
‘Could this sermon and this theology work
if I was preaching it to the young women of Boko Haram who were
as young black school girls?

Could this theology work?’

I would ask the Church to ask if its theology could work
in the most depraved and hard of circumstances.
That’s how you know you have a theology of which
the least of these
can be seen,
can be heard,
can be met,

and that God meets them.”


And the second excerpt was just as poignant, and punctuated by a great visual:


“We have a God who suffered everything we would suffer so that God would know how to help us.
And that’s crucial and imperative–
that we have a God that knows us
by our tears and our pain.

So, to worship a God like that,
to be in community,
and believe in a God like that,
I would hope that we would understand
how important it is
to hear the cries of one another
and to come to each other’s aid —
and [not just] with casseroles.

Sometimes, you’ve got to
take that casserole
to a march.

Go ahead,
and take whatever you’ve got,
and head to a protest;
and start to educate yourself on those who are not like you.

And so, I think that would be my major move and requirement of the Church
and of us
as disciples
in . . . Christian faith.”

Kugel. Not going to a protest-- yet. Small steps.
Not going to a protest–yet.
Small steps.

Fatimah Salleh, PhD, MDiv
A Thoughtful Faith Podcast
#167: Racism, Mormonism, the US Presidential Election and Women of Color
Excerpts start at approximately 1:29:00 and 1:28:00.
Recorded November 14, 2016
The entire podcast can be found here.