Love and Labyrinths

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer


Her post was adamant. It was, essentially, a declaration to everyone who thought she was too young to get married that they should butt out. She knew what she was doing, and she was mature enough to make this decision.

Weren’t we all? How well I remember those moments of early love, the times that were in so many ways easier when we decided the two of us would take on the world. As her wedding approached and her stress levels mounted, I reminded her of the importance to plan for a spectacular marriage rather than a spectacular wedding. I reminded her to look for the “snapshot moments”, securing them in her heart’s memory book for when times got tough.

Not if. When.

A month later, she sent a note. “Everyone was right,” she said. “I was too young.”

That’s when I told her that I had the same feeling a month into my second marriage, and I’d been twice her age. It has nothing to do with the years gone by, but everything to do with what we can put into it as a couple. It’s hard work, this relationship stuff. I reminded her to go through her snapshots–which she did–and the next day all was well again.

labyrinthI’ve been caressing my own memory album recently and one of the pictures I keep coming back to is the labyrinth.

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to walk a classical Chartres labyrinth. I always thought that a labyrinth and a maze were the same thing, but they are not. My friend equates the walking of a labyrinth with prayer, one long continuous path towards a focal point at the centre. A maze has several false turns and stops that force one to backtrack often.

The first day, I chose to walk in solitude. The path appeared to head directly to the centre and while sometimes it came tantalizingly close, there were many twists and turns that took me far away before I arrived.  Needing to concentrate on the path was meditative, and I appreciated the experience very much.

The next day, the guys walked it with me. This was completely different. There was enough distraction that more than one of us lost our place. It was faster and noisier and harder to concentrate. In fact it was a bit chaotic. Even though we had the same goal, I found the need to accommodate their different paces and comments and physical presence to be slightly annoying. Oh blog friends, let’s be honest. The two guys were beginning to irritate the snot right out of me.

We had one more day. I wanted to visit the labyrinth alone, to regain the solitude of the first day, but my husband insisted on coming with me while our friend finished packing up the camp. It was fascinating how different the experience was again, and it became the most important moment of the journey.  Yes, we were on exactly the same path, but we didn’t travel at the same speed. Consequently, there were moments when we were walking one in front of the other, then side by side, and once we were at completely opposite ends of the circle.  There were times when we looked to be going in different directions, even though we were headed to the same place.  And, because he left the centre before I did, there was even a moment of direct conflict, as one had to step off the path in order to let the other continue on it. 

DSC01644This particular mental snapshot is the one that comes to mind most often. I see him on the other end of the labyrinth’s loop, facing the opposite direction, focusing intently. We appear to be at odds when we’re not, that we aren’t even remotely heading towards the same goal though we are.

So we intentionally continue on the path of loving and caring for each other, trusting that the winding will sort itself out again, that just as quickly as it seemed to go wrong it will straighten itself out and we’ll be side by side again.

It happened during a snowshoe trek in the forest this past weekend.  A wee bird reminded us that we’re heading in the same direction after all. That’s what I want my young friend to know. It was magical, and I shudder to think how giving up could have meant the missing of it.

That’s a memory moment worth holding on to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 thoughts on “Love and Labyrinths

    1. Fortunately, there’s more better than worse. It’s easier to focus on the wrong things, sometimes, to let the balance be skewed. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. I’ve given up before, though not easily. It’s necessary for both to be on the same path, and that doesn’t always happen, of course. So I think the important thing is to examine that prayerfully first. The reward is pretty magical! Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I enjoyed your tying the labyrinth to the challenges we face in marriage. Thus was calming for me. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Denise. We’ve had a difficult year in some respects and these moments are so encouraging to see. I love reading about your adventures too.

  2. Loved your piece & your theme, which is universal. It applies to marriage and life, in general. Great writing.

  3. As I read your piece, Crystal, I am reminded that relationships take work and that the journey makes the sentiment mean so much more than words.

    1. So much work, Whitney–but isn’t it worth it? I wouldn’t trade my journey partner for anyone else.

  4. “I reminded her of the importance to plan for a spectacular marriage rather than a spectacular wedding.” What a great distinction!

    And this is exquisite: “Yes, we were on exactly the same path, but we didn’t travel at the same speed. Consequently, there were moments when we were walking one in front of the other, then side by side, and once we were at completely opposite ends of the circle. There were times when we looked to be going in different directions, even though we were headed to the same place. And, because he left the centre before I did, there was even a moment of direct conflict, as one had to step off the path in order to let the other continue on it.”

    And this: “We appear to be at odds when we’re not, that we aren’t even remotely heading towards the same goal though we are.”

    And of course the key word is “intentionally.” The notions of separate but together, awareness of being in the same labyrinth even when it looks different and even oppositional. Such a lovely meditation. Thank you.

  5. I think of those opposing directions all the time. I struggle in understanding relationships–not just marriage, but in friendships too, and remembering those moments in the labyrinth has helped. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Such a great metaphor for a long term relationship. I love the image of the labyrinth as you’ve used it here–so gorgeous. Marriage is something which can make people wonder if they the right choice. In fact, growing used to the “normal” of that, of wondering ad returning to the same choice, is a hallmark of a healthy relationship. The advice of mental snapshots is so true and I wish more people knew that the test of a marriage is not just how it fares in good times but also, how people act during hardship. Lovely piece. I enjoyed it so much.

    1. Our society has made marriage a throw-away option, it seems, when it’s far more complicated than that. It certainly requires attention and intention though. Thanks, Antonia!

  7. Beautifully said. I particularly love this: “So we intentionally continue on the path of loving and caring for each other, trusting that the winding will sort itself out again, that just as quickly as it seemed to go wrong it will straighten itself out and we’ll be side by side again.” I am single, but I can certainly relate to this in other relationships.

    And those chickadees! What a gift.

    1. It is part of every relationship, I think–these moments of realizing that we have common goals but somehow we are looking at them completely differently (or facing other directions because we are not at the same place anymore).

      You’re so right about the chickadees. They were a beautiful addition to our memory box. Thanks, Debbie!

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