I count it fortuitous that I had already scheduled a session on my calendar to meet with my spiritual director, Elaine, the day after I got back from my trip to Arizona.
A good spiritual director helps you notice what you haven't noticed on your own, and that's exactly what Elaine did. After I told her what happened in the labyrinth, she said:
"So, you told God to go away. Did he?"
I'd been so surprised by my declaring he go away, surprised even more that I said it with the force of pushing him away with both hands, that I hadn't noticed whether he did what I asked.
He stood right there in front of me and took it.
"Was there any kind of wall between you?" Elaine wanted to know. "Some kind of hedge or fence or partition, blocking you from one another in some way?"
There wasn't. It was just the two of us, directly facing each other. Nothing stood between us.
"What was he doing?" Elaine wanted to know.
He was looking at me. He was listening.
But he wasn't anywhere near leaving. It felt like he knew what I needed better than I did, which was why he stayed put.
So for a little while, I just let myself notice him there, standing before me, even though I'd told him to leave.
The next time I met with Elaine, about three weeks later, a shift had happened in the scene. In my prayer, Christ and I were still situated at the labyrinth, but we were no longer standing inside of it. Now we were seated on the ground, just to the right of its entrance.
I could tell he wanted to come sit next to me, perhaps even put his arm around me, but I wouldn't have it. I needed him to sit over there, across from me.
So he did.
And in the space between us, on the ground, sat every single one of those losses I had seen with such clarity in the labyrinth those few weeks earlier. They were sitting there, lined up between us on the ground.
Every time I went into prayer, there we were: at the outside edge of the labyrinth, sitting cross-legged on the ground, facing each other, with all those losses lying between us.
And that's where we sat for about two months.
Nothing changed until Good Friday.