When I learned that a friend of mine had gone into an alcohol rehab center, leaving her family and going to another state, for an extended treatment program, I was deeply saddened.
No question, there are physical causes for such predicaments. Alcohol is addictive, as we know. There may well be incomplete or disordered development of emotions, reason, or will. That she would agree to go into the program is a wonderful sign of her desire to take care of business. She is a strong and courageous woman, wife, mother, and friend.
As you would expect, I ,like you I hope, keep her and her family in my thoughts and prayers. And doing so, I wondered what more I could do from such a distance. What I found myself doing was looking at the situation from several unexpected angles.
First, I saw the video I link here. It’s entitled “Why Can’t We Walk Straight?” Please take a moment and watch this short, curious problem.
The more I thought about this video, the more I realized it was analogous to our path when we are in spiritual battles that reach us at our cores.
Is my friend blind to what causes her to circle back to her old solution to what troubles her? Is it a matter of knowledge, belief, or understanding?
I do not think any of us can claim to be free of circular reasoning in some respects. Circular reasoning begs the question. I don’t know my friend well enough to understand what her deepest question is and I pray she discovers it, finds the answer that fits, and decides to follow through on her decision.
Meanwhile, I looked further into this walking in circles question. I first noticed spiral staircases and found the image of an unusual one in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. It is said to be miraculous because it has no central support for its steps.
Again, my strange mind saw an analogy here to our predicament of not knowing or not believing what we cannot see, hear, touch, smell or taste. Misunderstanding what is at the center of our circular wandering about our troubles is a form of not being able to perceive. We not only move around them, but up and down.
The task then may well be to understand, not know or believe, what we cannot see, hear, touch, smell or taste. In this way, we stand under the mystery of our lives and come to realize we may never fully comprehend in knowledge or belief what it’s all about. That is, unless we reach the point where we simply follow Jesus. For me, Jesus provides the central support to my spiral staircase that does not appear to have any external support. (It actually does, of course. The external support is called the People of God, especially my fellow Roman Catholics who make up my family and friends.)
Then I remembered my interest in the labyrinth found set into the floor of the Cathedral at Chartres that pilgrims used to come walk.
So while my friend started her program, I began to take up my own walk again to follow Jesus and pray for her and her family.
The path of the labyrinth on a flat surface would take one in circles around an issue being prayed about in the hope that God would inspire an answer.
Here’s a link to the pattern of the labyrinth that can be followed on line.
Praying for my friend, I came to see better how the path of the labyrinth comprises a series of turning points.
There are many ways to approach these 78 turning points. I wanted to see, since the Chartres Labyrinth is in the Cathedral, how the turning points could be related to our Catholic faith, but especially to the life of Jesus.
As you may have already picked up, I learn a lot from images. I went to Father Felix Just’s collection of Gustave Dore’s images from the New Testament. Here’s a link to the collection I looked at. There I found most of what I sensed I was looking for: the turning points in the life of Jesus.
My thought was that if I could relate the life of Jesus to the turning points in the labyrinth, it might help my friend and me to have a way of better understanding the way in which Jesus dealt with the central issue of his life. Though obviously not an addiction, that central issue or mission for Jesus was a life and death matter for him and all of us, especially those of us who want to follow him and his way.
By walking the path over and over (in my head at least), I came to see how the battle between the ideologies of what I know (think science for example) and what I believe (think religion for example) gradually dissolves into a deeper understanding of how the two relate via the person of Jesus in the Trinity.
It would be wonderful if I could report to you what all I discovered in the process of pulling it all together. Though I have tried to articulate it many a time, especially for my friend’s consideration, I have been unable to at this juncture.
(The closest I have come to an articulation of what I have discovered in walking the labyrinth is this. I understand better how, in instituting the Eucharist, Jesus serves us with himself in the sacrament. Thus Jesus provides us with our central support: We can see, hear, touch, smell and taste Jesus, the Son of God in the Eucharist. To me the Eucharist is a form of the Second Coming of Christ.)
The best I have been able to come up with is a dynamic Prezi slide presentation I call “THE JESUS LABYRINTH – Meditation on the Life of Christ.” Here’s the link to the presentation which all are invited to view.
Please develop your own reflections. I am happy to hear from you. You can comment on this page or contact me at [email protected] Questions and comments are welcome.
Meanwhile, please keep our friend and her family in your thoughts and prayers.
May our Risen Christ guide her to make and follow up on the fitting decision. Peace.
© 2014. John Darrouzet. All rights reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.