Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
At the first of the year, I decided I really wanted to explore more of San Francisco. We’ve lived in the city for almost 3 years. We’ve lived near the city for over 13. And my idea for the year is to be present in a celebratory kind of way, paying attention to the beauty around me – in the form of people, places, experiences.
One place I’d never been is the labyrinth at Land’s End. The labyrinth was created as a work of art back in 2004. It’s 35 feet of beach rocks put into 22 rows, 18 inches wide, that wind around to a two-foot center and back out again. It’s right at the end of the earth – overlooking the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate bridge, and the Pacific Ocean.
So on a beautiful clear sunny day a few weeks back, I convinced the whole family to go with me.The first hurdle was finding parking. Always an issue anywhere in San Francisco, this was no different – in fact after the third time around the parking lot, I told Shawn if we didn’t find a space this go round we would just go home. But as soon as the words came out of my mouth, a car was backing out – and in we went.
I put Norah in the Ergo. Jack found a walking stick. And off we went.
Starting on the trail, I was not quite sure of where it began. I knew Shawn had been before, but all of a sudden he wasn’t sure which exact path to take to get to the labyrinth and there were no signs specifically for the labyrinth. I prayed for God to guide our path and get us there.
We kept going, hoping the direction was right. Enough people were on the trail to make us comfortable in the way we headed.
Finally we meandered our way to the labyrinth. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, a slight breeze blowing. And we were not the only ones who had the idea of the labyrinth. My hope was to make this a meaningful spiritual exercise (what labyrinths were made for). And I was already frustrated by the crowds, the twelve-year-old without a parent in sight, running in and out of the labyrinth, not following the path. The tourists with their selfie sticks and disregard for the sacred space.
We walked into the path of the labyrinth, created by small stones. The path was narrow. I kept inadvertently kicking rocks over into the path. Jack was behind me and Shawn followed suit.
Photo by Sarah Weimero
Jack wanted to go a bit faster, so I let him in front of me, but surprisingly, he continued on the path and did not make a sound, concentrating on following what he considered a giant maze.
I occasionally had to stop and lean to one side so that others coming back out could pass by. All throughout the labyrinth I was praying Charlie Hall’s Mystery (Sweet Jesus Christ my sanity; Sweet Jesus Christ my clarity) I was really trying to focus, but my mind kept wandering. I tried to drown out the crowd, but couldn’t.
Instead of making it worse, I chose to accept it. I chose to pray for those around me. Pray for the city. Thank God for people. All people. And ask that God would bring them to Him. Give them the faith to believe. I thanked God for a beautiful day, the sun that was shining, the amazing view.
As cheesy as it sounds and as hard as it is for me, life is as much about the journey as it is the destination. It’s about becoming and what we encounter along the way, as much as it is about finishing the project, getting to the right place. It’s about how I react and respond to what’s going on around me, WHO is around me. It’s not only about the task at hand, but how I handle the task.
It reminds me of the mundane task of driving in San Francisco. I have such a hard time keeping my cool during my 45 minute commute (that is only 7 miles) I get distracted by the people who don’t take turns, who cut me off, and who drive slowly because they’re obviously from out of town. So recently, instead of listening to the morning talk show, I’ve been listening to podcasts of sermons or some Christian music. Even just using the commute to pray and ask God to guide and direct my path and remind me who’s I am and what He has for me this day.
The time at the labyrinth that day reminded me of all of this. And that, indeed, on the path at the labyrinth, and on the path of all the dailies that make up my life, I can pay attention and celebrate all that comes my way and look at each of the occurrences as possibilities to live life fully in the love and light of Jesus. I can trust the path God has laid out for me and follow fully in it.
I was overcome by the distractions that day – irreverence, noise, other people on the path. Instead of focusing on that, I needed to find a way to focus on the positive, the good – I was surrounded by such iconic beauty – the ocean, the Golden Gate bridge, the Marin Headlands, the glorious sunshine – and surrounded by my family – all of which I am extremely blessed to have and thankful for God’s provision.
We are faced with the decision every day to focus on the sacred in even the dailies. For me, the most beneficial way to do that is through music and offering up thanksgiving – as Ephesians 5:19-20 says –
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And when we do that, God will guide us, make known His path for us, and there will be joy and celebration.
About the Author
I’m a part-time working mom of two in my mid-thirties learning to be like Jesus in the big and small dailies in San Francisco. I have a degree in English (Auburn University) and a Masters of Divinity (Golden Gate Seminary). I’m from the South, but not of the South. I’ve traveled to France, Ukraine, and China and, on a regular basis, come in contact with all of those nationalities plus a half a dozen more at the playground seven blocks from the flat we call home. We are a part of a house church that began as an outreach to Nepali refugees.
I live in the grace and love of Jesus and live out, as best I know how, that grace and love to others. I love checking off a to-do list – most days that includes drinking (good) coffee, singing, laughing, and reading up on the 75+ blogs to which I subscribe. A great day would also include going to the beach, having bacon for brunch and ice cream for dinner.
I beg for God’s kingdom come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – in my corner of the great city of San Francisco, as well as in all the other amazingly beautiful corners of the world – including yours, wherever that may be!