Note: A labyrinth, unlike its cousin the maze, contains no dead ends. It is rather a spiritual meditation tool which leads those who walk it inevitably to the center and peace, though through many turns. The labyrinth I walked at the Mercy Center in St. Louis, MO is modeled after the Chartres Labyrinth in France.

For more on labyrinths, see, for example,


The paths of the Mercy Center Labyrinth were originally lined with wood mulch, tons of it. But over time, weeds began to grow through and maintenance became too much. Pea gravel was put down in place of the wood, but the crunch-crunch-crunch as spiritual seekers walked the twists and turns proved distracting. So, recycled shredded tires took the place of the stone, providing both silence and softness underfoot.

As I walked the labyrinth earlier this month during a conference, I thought about those tired tires. They were no longer road-worthy, too bald to grip the asphalt and keep safe the passengers in a car or the driver and cargo of a truck. The miles on interstates, suburban streets, fields, and backwoods had taken their toll. The rubber had met the road for the last time.

But now they were given a new mission, a fresh purpose. Yes, they were shredded, and now nobody could tell a Michelin from a Toyo from a Goodyear. The cheap and the premium, the tractor and the ATV and the car tire were all mixed together on the path. All joined now to cushion the footfalls of humble seekers who had come seeking peace and centering in the labyrinth.

I mused that this is how it is not only with these tires, but with all who find that the mission they once passionately pursued is now no longer possible, whether due to age, lack of skills for a new day, fatigue or circumstances of family and/or the economy. They need not despair, for a new mission will present itself, new possibilities will emerge, though it may mean some shredding of ego, being willing to be humbled and prepared for a smaller, though important and rewarding, task.

God’s way of making things new (Revelation 21:5) is as mysterious as the Creator himself. As A Declaration of Faith has it: “We do not fully comprehend who God is or how he works. God’s reality far exceeds all our words can say. The Lord’s requirements are not always what we think is best. The Lord’s care for us is not always what we want. God comes to us on his own terms and is able to do far more than we ask or think.”

Like the labyrinth, God takes us through twists and turns and ins and outs but inevitably to the center of his will.

© 2009 Tom Cheatham