I woke up thinking, Who in the world would be knocking on my door at 3:00 am? I was alone, so I didn’t want to answer, but the knocking was persistent. If it’s a family emergency, they surely would have tried to call first, I reasoned as I grabbed my phone. Alarmed to see a multitude of messages and texts from my brothers and my mom, I hurried to the door without even checking what the messages said. I let my brothers Steve and Shawn in. They said they were heading down to Tennessee because our dad had another stroke. I was relieved to know it was not worse news.
When we got to the hospital and Mom led us through the hallways to Dad’s room, she kept saying how confusing the hospital layout was. I figured her brain was just as tired and frazzled as her appearance. But as the hours wore on and we attempted to navigate our way to various rooms and facilities, all three of us “kids” laughed in agreement with her – this place was like a maze.
At one point, we went outside for some fresh air and discovered the hospital had a labyrinth prayer and meditation garden.
The labyrinth at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital (Jackson, TN)
Unlike a maze with its dead ends and turn-arounds, a labyrinth is one single path that leads you to the center and then back out. The goal of a labyrinth walk is as follows:
- Use the walk on the way into the center to clear your thoughts and release your burdens.
- Once you get to the center, you’re in a better frame of mind to pray and/or receive what you need from God.
- After spending time in the center, you walk the path out, reviewing and meditating on what you have received.
I returned to the labyrinth that night. I knew it would be hard to lay aside the concerns I had for my dad, but I took a deep breath and began my walk. One way to clear your mind for the process is to repeat a word or phrase as you walk; I had none for the moment. But just a few steps in, I found myself humming the words to an old Kathy Troccoli song: My life is in your hands, my heart is in your keeping. I had my mantra.
I started repeating that first line to the beat of my steps. Soon, I was adding and adjusting words.
My life is in your hands, my life is in your hands, my life is in your hands,
yes, my life is in your hands
My father’s life is in your hands, yes, My father’s life is in your hands,
yes, my father’s life is in your hands
Yes, my father’s life is in the hands of my Father, yes
My father’s life is in the hands of my loving Father,
Yes, my loving father’s life is in the hands of my loving Father
By the time I reached the center, my only prayer was one of thankfulness.
There will be many more prayers to come as we learn the extent of the damage this stroke has caused and watch my dad work through its effects. But the one prayer that serves as a banner over all the rest has been answered. In fact, it was answered long ago, when my loving father placed his life in the hands of our loving Father.
To see more posts about my labyrinth walks, click here.