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.