Almost five years ago I decided to create a modified version of a bucket list. This list wasn’t prompted by the antics of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, but by my oldest daughter who first engaged in this exercise on her blog. I followed. My original list, No Particular Order, was posted here in 2007. In the last few weeks since the retreat I have revisited that list. God be forever praised!
My original list called for me to sit with someone while they passed from this life to the next. Again in a modified way my daughter and I did this back in January. Our little dog, Molly, had been with us for fifteen years. She had grown senile, blind, deaf and feeble. For months I agonized about whether it was time to put her to sleep. All my daughters agonized, but urged me to go ahead. Finally, I made the appointment. That morning (almost six months ago) my youngest daughter and I got in the car. She held Molly on the trip there. Neither of us knew what to expect. Neither of us was prepared. We were not ready for the speed with which Molly passed or the emotion that backhanded us. I carried her to the car, wrapped and swaddled, and held her all the way home at my daughter’s request. She drove. And we buried our little dog in our backyard.
My original list called for me to hold and kiss my future grandchildren. Soon. Very soon. September. I’m waiting. Eagerly. Joyfully. Ecstatically. Prayerfully.
My original list called for me to walk a prayer labyrinth. On June 2, 2012 I did. Saint Joseph’s has a prayer labyrinth—an asphalt square painted dark blue and white on a light blue background. It is situated on the opposite side of the Center from the House of Prayer. On Saturday morning after breakfast and our first morning conversation we walked the grounds. I knew which direction we would go. We went to several other places first (will write about those later), but my heart was bent toward the labyrinth.
I stood on the perimeter and gazed across its breadth. I tried to trace the path with my eyes only to get lost and have to start over. Inwardly I wrestled about how to start. In a mental tug of war with myself I asked way too many questions. How do you walk a prayer labyrinth? What do you do? How do you start? Here I was, literally standing, on the cusp of something I had desired to do for years and I was hesitating. My friend, the gracious one that she is, left me alone. She walked the area around the labyrinth taking photos of flowers and trees and the surroundings. Not once did she intrude, coax or speak. She just let me be.
I was praying and I felt the gentle urgings and proddings of the Spirit. Just take the first step. Tamera, just put one foot in front of the other and I will lead you all the way.
I did. I stepped forward and began to walk the labyrinth. And as I stepped into the labyrinth I asked a question.
Father, what do you want me to do? What is the next step?
I wasn’t just asking about here in the labyrinth, but in life. What do you want me to do?
I walked with my hands behind my back. Head down. When I looked up and tried to see where I was going the endless loops and turns caused confusion and disorientation. So, I just followed the dark blue path. One foot in front of the other.
As I walked that winding path, the Spirit talked to me. I am his sheep; I know his voice. Tamera, I want you to just be. You keep asking me what I want from you. What do I want you to do. What my will is. What I want you to do is just be.
A cry escaped my mouth as I turned another loop.
I want you just to love me. Love me. Love my people. However that looks and in whatever way I just want you to love me.
I was on the outside loop now. Tears were brimming in my eyes and my vision was blurred. Surely there is more that you want me to do, Lord? Surely.
You didn’t hear me. I want you to stop this fitful striving. I want you to rest in me. I want you to simply love me. Everything that you are I want bent toward loving me. It’s that simple. That’s what I want you to do next. You don’t think that it is enough, but it will be enough.
I stepped into the center of the labyrinth and stood. I waited in that painted floret, in a space wide-open and yet utterly closed. A spacious place, yet a prayer closet. A holding place, yet a launching pad. A center, yet a doorway.
I looked at my friend. She was smiling at me. Her head tilted. I wanted to stay right there. I wanted to stay in the center of the labyrinth. But I turned and began the walk back out of the winding path. My feet began to hurry, but I purposefully and willfully slowed the pace. On the way out I prayed for the people I love. I prayed for blessings and riches and comfort and challenge for my daughters and son-n-law, my husband, my grandsons, my family and my friends. One sentence prayers as long as the length of a loop, one word prayers as the loop turned.
When I stepped out of the labyrinth my friend was waiting. She hugged me and I cried. She asked me where those tears came from, but I had no answer. And she just let me be.
—reposted and edited from the archives.
Walk with me around the spiraling corridor of my asphalt path.
Let the sound of my shoes become the cadence of my inner worship.
s I kick the rocks and pebbles in my path,
and when I lose my footing on the crumbling edge of the road—
remind me that you will catch me when I stumble.
You will steady me.
You will set me aright.
As the light calls to the morning,
Call to me, O God.
As the darkness gives way to light,
Help me to give way and be enlightened.
As the darkness recedes,
let me be filled with your light gradually—
slowly so that my fragile self will not be completely undone.
I cannot encompass you.
As I tread along my course inward,
help me shed and discard everything
that will not lead or aid me in my journey toward you.
As my awareness of your Presence increases,
take me to a place until it is just you and me.
Please tighten and narrow the spiraled cell
so that my awareness of self
dissipates in your Presence.
As I push aside all my preconceived notions,
manifest yourself to me and in me.
Be the reality of my longings.
Let me see only you.
As I dwell in this still, lucid moment with you—no matter how brief—may I know you.
Lord God, I ask that you increase the length
each time I join you there.
Then when I have seen you—
when my moment of awareness is done—
help me to walk outward again.
Retrace my steps with me and
help me to retrieve
only those things which will enable me
to bless and bring lucidity to others.