One of my favorite songs from back in the day is called “We’re Gonna Keep on Walking Forward.” It’s a great song for replenishing your courage in the midst of work for justice or positive change of any kind. Singing it with friends and colleagues, slowly and in four-part harmony, always makes my heart sing. Here’s the version I know.
But there are times when I feel like I’m walking in circles. Or that our society is walking in circles. Are we making any progress? Am I “achieving” anything of note? Making a difference at all? Certainly the news of recent weeks makes gives me pause. Are we a better society than the ones our ancestors crossed oceans to escape? Am I any more self-aware or open-hearted than I was as a youth?
I was glad on Saturday to have the chance to walk a labyrinth, which we brought to our parish and incorporated into our Advent Quiet Day. In a labyrinth, you can’t get lost. But you do need to keep going. “It is solved by walking,” as the ancient phrase goes. I walked slowly, letting my mind travel back to many other places I’ve walked in my life: walks on the beach of Lake Michigan, walks around the rim of a volcano in Kenya, protest marches, walks across a snowy city in Wisconsin, AIDS walks. So many steps, each one bringing me closer to this moment, this decision-point. Where will I walk next?
The labyrinth feels true to my experience. Around and around we go in life and as a society. But the labyrinth is a path, and the journey itself holds blessing. To sit it out would be sad – maybe sinful, even. I will “keep on walking forward,” inviting as wide an array of people to accompany me as possible. But I will anticipate some twists and turns, and I will seek to make sure no one gets left behind on the journey.