I entered the bright labyrinth as a child. Naked, free, carrying nothing but myself and the love of my family, all I had was joy and laughter and desire to live.
I learned quickly; before I knew it I could crawl, walk, and then swiftly run. I learned to speak, becoming able to ask others what they wanted and understand what was wanted of me.
As I grew older, the weight of the world started to weigh me down.
One day, after I was laughed at for my awkward gait, I picked up fear of showing my true self to others. Then when I stumbled, I gained guilt of making mistakes. Next when I tripped and scraped my knee, I discovered shame for my flawed humanity. The weight of the world and my tired mind impacted each step and turned my joyful gait into a slow shuffle.
The labyrinth became a little less light. In the dimness, I began to stumble more frequently. I began to feel alone, exhausted, afraid, even disgusted by my inability to glide, reluctant to show others my struggles. Disheartened, a little more light left and the labyrinth became darker.
To fit in, hoping the world would accept me, I put on an ebony cloak, pulled a hood over my head, and placed a dark mask on my face. No longer would I show my smile or expose my tears; no longer did my laughter ring or would my fears find voice. In the midst of the labyrinth, I sought to blend in, not escape. I placed on a black veil, thinking it would be easier to merge into the frightening darkness through losing who I was.
As I approached the center of the labyrinth, I thought I had reached the end. I thought I was broken, finished, dead. My strength was depleted, my vision impeded, my joy abated. In the eye of this dark place, having failed, I opened myself, ready to accept the darkness completely.
Surprisingly, a glimmer of light appeared. Although my eyes were unaccustomed to this new sensation, rather than turn away, I looked to the sky. The light flooded into my soul and began to battle the darkness.
“Leave it all behind,” it whispered. “You have not reached an end, but a beginning. Give me your guilt, your shame, your fear. Leave me your doubt, your hate, your anger. Open yourself to my light and it will consume you, defeating this darkness that has been your companion.”
So I fixed my eyes on this glimmer of hope and relented, dropping my burden and leaving my hurt in the middle of the maze.
“Go forward,” a call beckoned. So I did.
The light, now both outside and inside of me, illuminated a single step in my path. I followed. One step at a time the light revealed my way. One step at a time I followed.
The light inside me continued to spread, the light in front of me continued to guide. Suddenly I felt lighter. Joy, peace, wisdom and love lightened my stride.
Then, one day, I heard the voice inside and outside of me suggest, “Dance. Dance freely, dance confidently, dance as if no one is watching.” So I did. I danced and twisted and turned. Never did I fear what direction I would go. One leap at a time the light revealed my new motion.
Soon, as I was resting from my splendid dance, the light offered a new command: “Sing. Sing your song. Sing with pride. Sing it loud. Sing the song I’ve placed in your heart.”
And I listened again.
I opened my voice, unsure what would come. The song was beautiful and soothed my soul. The light grew stronger and I noticed there were others inside the labyrinth, listening to me, dancing as well, singing along. So I danced and sang on, thinking that I finally had reached the end. But I was wrong.
One day I was resting, at peace in the light, when the voice whispered to me once again. “Fly- fly with me- take my hand. Trust that I can lift you out of this labyrinth and allow you to see places that you never dreamed. Trust me and take my hand.”
Although my old fear of the unknown cautioned me not to listen, I thought of where I’d traveled since I left the darkness behind, becoming unshackled by its burdens. The light had lightened my load, reminded me how to walk, taught me to freely dance and confidently sing. I decided to trust the light and listened again.
I reached out my hand, extended from my soul, and the light touched my fingers. Suddenly my arm turned into a wing. I lifted my other arm and another wing spread.
“Fly with me,” the light beckoned, “let me lift you up and help you soar. Have faith in me.”
Although a shed of doubt remained, I leaped forward and a great wind lifted me up into the sky. I flapped my new wings and a gust gently pushed me higher, higher towards the sun, into light I never imagined, towards placed I never dreamed.
Today, I still soar, occasionally dropping to the ground to peacefully rest my wings. Sometimes I fly over the labyrinth and can’t believe how little I had traveled when I thought I reached the end on that dark day in the beginning of my journey. Sometimes I see others in the darkest part of the labyrinth and notice my own light seems to illuminate their path.
“Walk on,” I whisper. “Dance with me. Sing your own song. You can fly too- just come towards the light and find your faith.” I see them turn their heads and open their eyes, gathering strength to continue.
Every moment, now, I see the light shining above me. “Fly on, fly on. You can soar, the darkness is no more.”
And fly on I do.