Labyrinthine Renunciation of Frenzied Time

Renunciation of the the desire for compulsive control is going to be a long process of accepting the grace of God. The control monster, deep in my psyche, pulling me into frenzied time zone. Killing the control minotaur is about giving up the compulsive pursuit of immediate happiness in the frenzied time zone to live in the deep time in appreciation of God’s grace, no matter what life throws my way.

In Greek Mythology Theseus slays the Minotaur by braving through to the center of the labyrinth. This monster slaying myth is a timeless because it speaks to fact that everyone had a monster hidden deep in their psyche needing to be destroyed. It is a form of a original sin that needs to be sanctified by the grace of God.  

On the second day of my week long road trip at Alburquerque, NM I got tuned into my own inner monster, anxiety! The prior night I was coming down with cold. I also overslept. I knew I needed to workout in order to get juices flowing in my muscles, some dopamine in my system. That set me later than I had originally planned to leave. I was frustrated with myself because delays prevent me from being able to see all the places I could see on this week long road trip. 

That morning I went to the Franciscan friar Richard Rohr’s Christian meditation center, Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) at Alburquerque, NM. I wanted to visit his center before heading to the Grand Canyon because Rohr’s work aligns with the theme of journeying deep time for this road trip (explained in my first blog post here). The CAC was closed for lunch when I got there. While waiting at the CAC, browsing on my phone, I realize that I had missed a rare opportunity to take a sun rise hot air balloon tour of Alburqueque because I had miss planned the trip. At this point my latent anxiety was turning to self blame.

I decided to to take a walk at the contemplative labyrinth (picture above). As I was walking through the circles, my mind focused on at the little wood chips that carpeted the ground and the smooth stones creating the circular pathway. In the first few seconds of slowly walking, time slowed down. My gloom had lifted like fog clearing out bringing a rays of golden sun shine. I left the old anxiety ridden world entered a new world. The problem with the old world is that when anxiety increases time speeds up, entrapping the psyche in self-absorption. In the old world the frenzied monkey-mind keeps me thinking about the same thing over and over again, self-blame on an infinite loop; no exit. Walking slowly through the labyrinthine pathway, as time slowed down, my psyche transcended my self incriminating self-absorption stepping into the world of God’s grace. The Labyrinth is a place which helped me get out of my self-blame clearing my mind freeing me up to mediate on the free Grace of God. The rest of the way to the center, I was meditating on the gift of my union with Christ. 

When I got to the center of the labyrinth, I saw something strange. There was a large wooden cross on the ground around which other pilgrims had left some souvenirs. Some had left pennies, others quarters, some beautiful stone jewelry. First I thought, “Wow! How superstitious can people be? Is this a way of getting their prayers or petitions answered? Some form of arm twisting God?” Then as I pondered this more, I realized that the action of the pilgrims could be interpreted as a symbolism for self-renunciation.

When one gets to the center of the labyrinth, one gets to the center of the self. It is the place of the symbolic self.It is the place of the killing of the monster within. It is the place of self denial. Self-renunciation is the starting point of sanctification (Matt 16:24). For me my self-renunciation had to take the form of giving up my attempt to control my schedule. My road-trip-goal in attempting to control my schedule is to maximize the possibility of my happiness by consuming the best experiences, visiting places. In renouncing my compulsive control of my harried plans, I embrace the present in all it strange simplicity, living in deep time by the grace of God in union with Christ.

As a ritual of my own renunciation, I left a quarter at the foot of the cross in the center of the Labyrinth. The process of renunciation of the the desire for compulsive control is going to be a long requiring dependence on the grace of God. The control monster, deep in my psyche, pulls me into frenzied time zone of hyper-productivity where the monkey mind attempts to incriminate me for not being able to get the most productive happiness. Killing the control Minotaur is about giving up the pursuit of happiness in frenzied time in to order live in the contentment of deep time appreciating God’s grace, embracing whatever life throws my way. This road trip is an attempt at getting a taste of what it means to renounce the anxious living in frenzied time by apprehending the present moment in union with Christ, living in deep time. 

Pilgrimage into Deep Time!

Just like Pink Floyd has concept albums. Mine is going to be a concept road trip. The theme for my trip is going to be experiences of deep time, I will keep posting anything I am moved to write about as a result of contemplative excursions into Deep Time! 

The reason why I love Pink Floyd is because their albums are, what is called, concept albums. They pick a concept/theme they want to explore and all the songs in the album are a progressive exploration of that theme. (For example, The Dark Side of the Moon is about man’s unconscious dark side taking over his sanity. A Brick on the Wall is about life experiences becoming a form of isolation from other people.)

Having completed my adventure through my completion of M.Div., looking forward to the next adventure of fostering a community of Christ-like spiritual vitality (aka Church Planting), I wanted to go on a sort of a road trip. Special thanks to one of my best well wishers, Doug and Karen Meikle, who very generously offered me one of their cars for this trip – so that way I did not have to choose between taking a rental car or riding my motorcycle (that latter option would have been disastrous!).

Being a Floydian, I needed a theme for my road trip. Initially, I thought it would be Mountains, Lakes and Trees – the point being that I have never seen the reflection of a huge mountain on a large lake at its foot. I figured I will take a trip to Colorado. As I was thinking about this more, I was listening to the Fransciscan friar, Richard Rohr talk on the podcast On Being. Rohr talked about living in “deep time” – living in deep time is about contemplative living where one is not merely passing time moment by moment but one is aware of the deeper connecting of the dots, when eternity invades the present.

Moment by moment way of living life is a way of attempting to define time as a means of getting what one wants – a rather narcissistic apprehension of time, I might opine. Living in “deep time” is giving up the compulsive control of time as a personal commodity and resting in the union with Christ. (To be fair, I am not sure that Rohr would describe “deep time” the way just did now… I took his terms and defined it the way it makes sense to me. My sense based on the podcast is that Rohr wouldn’t bring in the union with Christ part into this deep time concept.). The essential component of this is to be able to live in time by the way of resting in union with Christ. After all the Spirit of Christ is always with us. It is just that our awareness of His presence in us keeps fluctuating because our inner faculties of apprehending the presence of Christ is often dulled. 

As I was pondering this, I reckoned that Richard Rohr’s contemplative retreat center is in Albuquerque, NM. Just then it occurred to me that perhaps I needed to make this road trip into a pilgrimage of sorts living into deep time. I decided that I will go to Rohr’s retreat center and then to the Grand Canyon… experience its arid beauty the way the Desert Fathers went into the arid desert furnaces as a way of purifying their souls. This purification of their hearts, away from the distractions, they hoped would sensitivities their jades faculties to be present to the presence of the Spirit of Christ. 


For me going to the Grand Canyon as pilgrimage of living into Deep Time (in union with Christ) means the following I am not going to allow myself to be bothered by any compulsive need to 1) be productive or 2) fill up my itinerary to the brim or 3) attempt to control my time to consume all experiences I can get when I am here. Instead, I am going to have a contemplative mindset which means 1) I allow myself to rest in the deep union with Christ. 2) I am going to read the writings of Christ-loving monks and meditate on it through the day allowing it to seep into my consciousness. 3) I am going to stop often and take a long loving look at the beautiful creation of God and enjoy His handiwork. 

Just as I have made the list above, I realized that I am already failing on a number of counts there. The human predicament is to keep getting sucked into superficial time of compulsive productivity. I am typing this, sitting at Albuquerque, NM. I am excited to visit Richard Rohr’s contemplative retreat and then making my way to the Grand Canyon.

Just like Pink Floyd has concept albums. Mine is going to be a concept road trip. The theme for my trip is going to a pilgrimage into deep time, I will keep posting anything I am moved to write about as a result of contemplative excursions into Deep Time! 

Disclaimer: I appreciate Father Rohr’s contributions as a incisive critique of modernity and Evangelicalism’s hyper-rationalism. However, I do not espouse with all of Rohr’s theological musings, especially his Christology (which probably is a topic for another post).