A hundred yards down a gentle slope from the UU church there is a labyrinth of stones laid out on a gravel bed. It is large and takes me 276 normal walking-speed steps to walk in to the large stone at the center. We are currently having two services at the UU with an hour in between the services for coffee and a gathering together of people from each of the services. That time is filled with pleasant conversation, sitting in the library by the fireplace, strolling on the patio, and for me sometimes walking down to the labyrinth for a walking meditation.
Yesterday, I walked and thought about the question I asked the stones. Obviously, the stones don’t answer my question directly, but I look at each of the several hundred stones with that question in mind. There are many stones, and every one of them is beautiful in its own way, just like people, and each stone projects a personal uniqueness into its answer, just like people. It’s my mental interpretation of the many aspects of the encounter that develops into a meaningful conversation, and I don’t come out with quite the same attitude toward my question as when I went in.
Yesterday, I paused at the entrance, closed my eyes, formed my question, and then asked the labyrinth for permission to enter it with that question in my thoughts. This time my question was “How can humanity survive for a long time? And, what can I do to help it survive?”
For a while, the stones were a bit puzzled by what survival meant to me because we are so temporary compared to them. Survival isn’t a thing you have any control over if you are a stone, but in the very long run, both they and we all simply return to being scattered subatomic particles bustling about. There was a kinship there, in that realization, between me and the stones. We came from the processes of the Universe, and we now exist in our own way independently within those same continuing processes. But for all of us, this is a temporary situation. So, what’s my problem?
“We humans have some control over what happens to us. Granted the control is limited and brief, but right now I do have the choice to walk around with you stones and talk to you or to walk back up the gathering hall, and talk to people. I can hear them more clearly when they talk back to me, although I must admit some of them get disturbed when I tell them I talk to you. It doesn’t bother you that I talk to people, does it?
By the way, thank you for giving me your thoughts on scattering far and wide into the Universe and residing where people are not a problem.”