I had sort of a cruddy afternoon yesterday. My little temper tantrum was completely self-imposed, and I invited it to stretch far into the evening and this morning.
My son commented as we were turning out the lights late last night, "Mom, you were just looking for a fight today, weren't you?" I think I totally was.
Why is that? Why do I do look for trouble more times than I want to admit? What snaps within me that takes me from laughing one minute to wanted to claw someone's eyes out the next?
Hormones? History? Hysteria?
Whatever the cause, I totally know better. I've bitten the wormy hook of hate cast in my direction by others far too many times. I always seem to learn something whenever I allow misery to reel me in, and, thankfully, those lessons usually come while I still have a bit of breath left in me. Often, I learn them on the labyrinth.
After all our walkers were finished this morning, I removed my shoes and set out on the Path myself. I had much to ponder from yesterday's happenings and other concerns of the heart. Before I realized it, I was sitting within the Center's fifth petal feeling the sun's warmth upon my back. I intended to stay just a few moments, but remained there much, much longer. I simply did not want to leave that sacred and familiar space.
I walked in with all my questions. I was hoping - maybe even expecting - some definitive answers. I received none.
Instead, I watched an ant.
With a deep, contemplative awareness that I have been unable to attain since my retreat time at Advent, I watched this ant with my entire being. He crawled beneath my outstretched knees through the Center of the labyrinth and straight out the exit. After a few more minutes, I started to get up to follow him, thinking his exit might be a sign that it was far past time for me to leave. It was then that tragedy struck.
A Live Oak leaf blew right in front of him. He scrambled up it and teeter-tottered in the breeze for a few joyous seconds. When he climbed off, the leaf blew on top of him.
I thought nothing of this at first until he didn't move for over a minute. When I got up to investigate, I realized with despair that the leaf had actually sliced off one of his middle legs. Imagine being so incredibly delicate that a leaf becomes a deadly razor capable of ending your life...
The ant now crawled in an erratic pattern around the exterior of the labyrinth's center in apparent shock. The song "Fragile" by Sting started playing in my mind. I took a few, sad steps onto the Path. When I doubled-back to check on him, he was gone.
Vanished. Like the wind. Odd.
And I am left wondering, how is it that I can have more genuine compassion for an ant than for an angry human being?
And wondering, again, if the compassion that I lack for her or for him or for you or for them might be more deeply rooted in my own lack of compassion for -