It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a month since I’ve started my Internship at Trinity Lutheran Church, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The last few weeks have been filled with meeting new people, orienting myself to the life of the church and surrounding neighborhood and really finding myself in my new role as Vicar. This weekend several leaders in the church are on retreat at Stony Point Retreat Center to engage in the beginnings of Strategic Planning, a visioning process for the church as it looks toward the future. So far it has been exciting, engaging, and an experience that I feel lucky to be part of as I learn how to be a better pastor when the time comes.
Today has been rather cold and windy, which bummed me out a little bit because I learned that there is a Labyrinth located on the retreat center campus and I desperately wanted to walk it. As luck would have it the rain mostly stopped in time for our post-lunch break even if the wind hadn’t, and so I ventured forth to walk the Labyrinth. For those who may not know what a Labyrinth is, it’s a meditative walking path that looks a bit like a maze, however there is only one way in, and one way out so there is no need to worry about getting stuck. [I’ll insert a picture of the one I walked today once I can get the pictures off my camera.]
For years I’ve loved walking Labyrinths because they give me time to slow down from the chaos of my day, to clear my mind and to re-center myself. One of the first times I walked a Labyrinth was in the weeks following Mom’s cancer diagnosis. I was upset and angry and that first Labyrinth walk, under the guidance of my Wake Div. Spirituality Professor Chris Copeland, I was able to process that news a little better in a safe space. I’ve walked several since then, but this one was different. This was the first time I’d walked a Labyrinth since Mom had passed away a little over a month ago. Departing from my typical practice of setting an intention I walked the Labyrinth and talked to Mom. I told her about how things had been going, about my struggles with moving back to New York and about the incredible people I’ve met so far in my time here. I thanked her for sending me butterflies, both live ones and images of them so I could still feel her with me, since I admittedly struggle with it some times. I talked with her about how much I miss her and the things that I’m sad she won’t be physically present for in the future.
By the time I got to the center of the Labyrinth my eyes were closed, wind and cool water are refreshing to me and I spent some time taking some of the first deep breaths that I’d taken since she’d passed. When I opened my eyes and looked down, the first thing I saw was a butterfly. My eyes filled with tears, but this time they were tears of gratitude, which I discussed with her as I exited the Labyrinth again. Uplifted by the sacred moment I took out my camera for the first time since I moved and Took a few pictures of the retreat center and the beautiful fall leaves. Refreshed I headed inside to the gift shop with the intention of buying a Lenten stole I’d seen the night before. As it turns out that wasn’t meant to be. After seeing a cross with a Labyrinth on it I switched my plan and picked it up. I stepped to another display and saw it. A cross with a butterfly at its center. I’d been looking for one ever since Mom had passed, since in Christianity the butterfly is considered a symbol of the Promise of Easter, but more importantly to me at this point in my life, butterflies are a symbol of hope and my Mom’s presence around me. Today, has been a day of refreshment for me at a time when I’ve felt so utterly depleted. And for that I am truly thankful.