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Vignettes: Dad And Son In The Labyrinth

I know I have already done a posting about my last experience with the labyrinth in St. Augustine.  However, I feel called to write another posting because I keep thinking about two of the people who went in to do the walk.  I mentioned in my previous posting, Self Nurturing- Enjoying the Labyrinth at the Beach, that there were many children who playfully walked, ran, and skipped through the labyrinth leaving their unique brand of energy present. Well, one little boy took, maybe I should say “enticed” his Dad in with him.

I remember looking up as they both approached the labyrinth.  The Dad was a little hesitant, hung back and tried to look somewhat indifferent, as though he wasn’t really interested in the labyrinth.  The son was having none of that.  He was curious and wanted to take a good look.  He realized almost immediately that this was something to be experienced.  He saw a pathway opening up and wanted to explore. 

He took a bold step into the labyrinth and then stopped, remembering Dad, turned to look at him and said “come on Dad, let’s do it”.  Dad looked around, as if checking out who was watching, then tentatively stepped inside.  The little boy needed no further encouragement. Off he went on his adventure.  He was very focused and determined, staying within the confines of the narrow pathway. Dad was a little different.  He kept looking around, obviously embarrassed, probably hoping that nobody who knew him was going to happen by.

If you know what a labyrinth is like you will understand that as you enter you are on a circular pathway that is about the third circle inside the whole design.  As you walk, the circles turn on each other.  This can lead to the illusion that you are about to get to the center and then, suddenly, you find yourself walking the very outer circle.

So the little boy got to an about-turn which he thought was going to turn him in towards the center, but instead it turned him out to the edge of the labyrinth.  For a moment he was confused, and called out to His Dad for help.  The father said, “just keep following the path son”, and trustingly the little boy did so.  I had noticed that by now Dad had lost his self-consciousness and was just as focused as his son.  The two continued, intent upon their journey, the little boy about half a circle ahead of the Father.

Then, in a sudden moment, the boy found himself inside the center of the labyrinth.  He stood their looking pleased with himself and looking all around himself at the road he had travelled.  A few moments later his Dad arrived in the center.  Without a word, the little boy held out his hand and a big grin spread across his face.  They stood together for a while, Dad and son, holding hands and looking out to sea.  It was a God-moment.  Who knows what thoughts each one held in his heart.

The boy looked up into his father’s face, then gently slipped his hand out from his father’s and, in just as focused a fashion as on the way in, he started the journey out.  Dad stood there for a moment more watching his little one strike out on his own before heading out behind him. 

I found myself thinking this is what parenthood is about.  We hold our children’s hands for as long as we can.  Then comes the day when they choose a path.  We follow at a distance for a while, close enough that they know they can call on us for help, but not so close that we crowd them.  But they have to make the journey of life on their own.  If we’re lucky, they sometimes look back and smile and wave and may even occasionally come and hold our hands again for a while.