Walking through the streets of Seattle’s New Rainier Vista neighborhood can seem somewhat like a maze. If you don’t keep your bearings on Mt. Rainier (easy to lose for non-natives on a cloudy day), you can effortlessly get turned about. As we walked along the sidewalks of this redevelopment, the children picked up garbage; it seemed the only familiar act in which to respond to the ever-present litter lined up along some of these unfamiliar lanes.
We prayed for this new community that has both displaced long-time Valley residents and offered new hope for immigrants and refugees from around the world. We acknowledged that living in this dense urban village must seem very much like a maze for families who come without great resources from war torn countries. However, we also prayed that, unlike a maze, these souls wouldn’t come here to get lost. Rather, more in alignment with that of a labyrinth, these many homes and streets would lead to personal transformation and, ultimately, abundant life.
The children played for a bit at a happened upon pocket park surrounded by tall, dense homes. As we followed the trail to exit the playground, we came upon a grouping of carved stones with labyrinth images.
Today’s prayers echoed this ancient prayer, attributed to St. Brigid:
God of the Twisting Path, God of the Turning Spiral, God of Revelation, God of Infinite Mystery; may this God enfold and entwine you in every step.
The Legend of the Labyrinth of the Minotaur
Upon ascending to the throne of Crete, King Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a white bull, which he would sacrifice in honor of Poseidon. However, Minos found the bull so delightful that he kept it and sacrificed an ordinary bull, which angered the gods. Aphrodite made Persephae, Minos’ wife, so desire the white bull that she bore its offspring, which grew to become the monstrous Minotaur, half man and half bull. King Mino had Daedaius, the master craftsman, build a giant labyrinth to hold the Minotaur.
The Athenian King Aegeus was compelled to pay Minos penalties every ninth year by giving up seven young men and seven maidens, who were forced to enter the Labyrinth of the Minotaur and ultimately be devoured. At the approach of the third sacrifice, Theseus, the son of King Aegeus, offered to enter the labyrinth as one of the virgins so that he could kill the Minotaur. He promised his father that on its return his ship would have white sails if he was successful and black sails if he had been killed.
Ariadne, on of Minos’ daughters, fell in love with Theseus and gave him a ball of red string, allowing him to retrace his path to escape. Theseus killed the Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and led the other Athenians back out of the labyrinth. On the trip home, he abandoned Ariadne on the island of Saxos, continuing home with er sister Phaedra, who became his wife. Theseus forgot to put up the white sails, and when King Aegeus saw the black sailed ship he threw himself from a cliff lookout into the sea, which is now called the Aegean. Thereby, Theseus ascended to the throne of Athens.