Walking in Circles

On the grounds of an interfaith center, the labyrinth is located a skinny mile from our house. I had never visited despite meaning to, despite driving by it at least twice a month on my way to somewhere else. You know how it is; we need out-of-towners to get us to experience life just beyond our backyards.  In this case the out-of-towner was my daughter, home for a long holiday weekend.

Driving home from the mall after a restock-the-basics shopping trip, I made a spur-of-the-moment turn into the interfaith center’s parking lot.  There were no other cars but ours.  The labyrinth sat empty, expectantly; its brick patterns complex and inviting. The afternoon was cool; the mist in the air absorbed much of the street noise, cocooning Emma and me in quiet. We got out and started walking.

Mazes never beckon me as appealingly as do labyrinths. They are destinations in and of themselves: off highways, tucked into out of the way places.  Designed to confuse with their high walls and nonsensical paths, mazes are for getting lost in. Labyrinths are spiritual spaces often laid out right in public areas. They follow a proscribed path even if it can’t be easily discerned. Meditative, they are designed to help you find yourself. Or at least momentary  peace and calm.

I entered the labyrinth first, Emma following at a slower pace. A quarter of the way in we laughed, realizing what a precise metaphor it was for our relationship.  Sometimes we walked side-by-side, close enough to touch fingers.  A few more paces and we suddenly found ourselves on opposite sides of the labyrinth, able only to wave and call out to each other. Then back again, passing each other face-to-face before continuing on in our own direction.  I tried to trace the path visually, trying to discern how we would end up in the center, but it just wasn’t possible.  There were too many turns and switchbacks.  The labyrinth offered up another lesson: keep your eye on the present; the future will take care of itself.

The mother-daughter relationship is complex, its path marked and marred with any manner of confusion; many times it feels more like a maze and we wonder how will we ever find our way out. It can seem like we do nothing but go in circles, ending up in the same place (again!) despite all attempts to the contrary. But we keep walking the path, head down, following our feet, hopeful that if we just keep going we will get somewhere eventually.

Emma met me in the center. We embraced. We jumped around, crossed the lines, played in the shadows and returned to center. All around us brick patterns spun out in whorls and waves.  Standing there with my daughter at the center of this brick universe, I felt a strong sense of the infinite. Sometimes going in circles is very best thing to do. Emma left the labyrinth first, leaving me to follow.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 thoughts on “Walking in Circles

  1. Aunt Judy

    Beautiful thoughts and beautifully written. Sheila has always been fascinated with labyrinths and talked about them for a long time. I wonder if that one was in existence when we lived there…

    1. Debra

      HI Aunt Judy. So glad you liked. I think the labyrinth is pretty new. The interfaith center is pretty new, I think. For my readers here in Michigan the labyrinth is on the south side of Big Beaver between Adams and Coolidge. Closer to Adams.

  2. cindylaferle

    Lovely! Treasure this time and your relationship with your daughter. I cannot help but think of my relationship with my own mom, now suffering depression and dementia, in assisted living. Our journey has been much like your walk with Emma in the labyrinth…. sometimes in sync together, other times on opposite sides of the circle … trying to make it come together…

    1. Debra

      Cindy, I know that you and your mom have been “in the labyrinth” for so many months and a confusing and painful walk it is.

  3. Leah Rubin

    I love this, and it brings up some deep feelings of my own about my strong and fulfilling relationship with my wonderful daughter. Only after reading the comment from Cindy did I think about my own mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s Disease. She’s been gone 22 years, and sometimes I think I’m still in the labyrinth with her…

    1. Debra

      Thank you, Leah. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. What an interesting insight that you sometimes feel you are still in the labyrinth with your mom. I would believe it. It’s an eternal walk we make.

Comments are closed.