Walking the Ancient Way

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Last night I had the privilege of attending a candle light labyrinth walk in the heart of Grace Cathedral. Two women tended our walking with taizé songs. As I walked into this ancient symbol, I strained to make meaning of it. I wanted to experience the path so badly, that I was missing what the path itself had to say. I wanted to package it up and turn it into the perfect metaphor. I wanted to be able to tell stories for years to come about what happened to me while I walked the ancient way.

Then, a wisdom arose from the walking, gently urging me to release my agenda of making meaning. “You are turning this into an object in your story,” said the voice within, “Meaning comes as grace. You discover meaning. It is revealed. It is revealed by being fully present along the way.”

I took a deep breath and let go of my expectations. For once, I set aside my need to control an outcome. I just paid attention to each curve of the path and to the way my bare feet felt on the cool stone. I paid attention to the lofty architecture that inspires the imagination with the expansiveness of the divine. I paid attention to my fellow travelers- joyful, reverent, seeking. I noticed, and loved, how they walked the way. I walked my way to release, to grace, to longing, to wholeness. Meaning began unfolding all around me unmanufactured, abundant in accessibility.

As I considered the Lenten journey we are on together, and the insight I received in the Labyrinth last night, this blessing by Jan Richardson was on repeat in my heart. I want to share it with you as you consider how you walk this ancient way.

Walking Blessing by Jan Richardson
That each step may be a shedding,
That you will let yourself become lost.
That when it looks like you’re going backwards,
You may be making progress.
That progress is not the goal anyway,
But presence
To the feel of the path on your skin,
To the way it reshapes you
In each place it makes contact
To the way you cannot see it
Until the moment you have stepped out.


IN by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin
Things have more meaning now
Than they did before
Words are doorways into
Their own rich and varied world
Simple symbols and motions move me
Reaching for bread
A hand to hold
A barren cross
A set table
I have stepped inside of my faith
Another world inside the one
I’m already in
It moves me closer to what is
A dissolver of distance
Sometimes I walk around like this for days
And my life is filled with light
Careless, I step outside again
Without knowing
And then search my surroundings
For another invitation in
In is where I most desire to be
In love
In relationship
In awe
Inside this faith inside the world
I am in divine presence
And divine presence is in me
It takes hardly anything
To flood me with love and purpose
A single leaf
A gust of wind
A candle
A welcome
A hymn
A hug
A sip of coffee beside an open window
All drenched in the sacred
How else can I explain
This heart-brimming-over way of life?
It is no secret
There is always, always
An invitation
Left before you
Wherever you are
Really look and you too will walk through the doorway
To this holy world within the world