Last Sunday some of us from St. Peter went to Brasee’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Wellington. There were some kid-friendly games, a hay ride around the property, a few greedy goats and other animals to feed, and several mazes, including a small corn maze, a large corn maze, and a crawl-your-way-through-a-pitch-black-hay-bale maze in the barn.
The crawl-your-way-through maze was an immediate “no” for me. I do not like enclosed spaces and crawling around in the dark with strangers before or aft does NOT appeal to me. The kids loved it though.
I thought I would try the corn maze. The big one. My first corn maze, if I’m being truthful. I followed of the heels of a couple of our teens, but about 10 or 15 minutes in, when it was apparent we were lost, I separated from them and eventually found my way out—out the entrance, that is. That was OK with me. 20 minutes of wandering around a muddy corn maze was enough.
A bit later, a larger group from our church decided to go into the big maze. I took a deep breath and went with them. We wandered and wandered. About 15 minutes in, we found some more St. Peter folks who were also lost in the maze and we joined forces. They’d already been at it for at least 30 minutes and their frustration was showing. As a large group, we tramped around for a while, laughing and enjoying our time together. One of our younger members kept saying “At least we are lost together.” Good theology, I thought.
However, after we’d been at it about 40 minutes, we were getting anxious. Our scheduled hayride time was fast approaching, and we needed to get to the pick-up spot. A large part of our group—including the folks who’d been in the maze much longer than me—decided to head through the corn to the edge of the field and forget about the maze. And that’s what they did: went out the side and walked around the outside edge of the field.
The rest of us followed the instructions of a group member who said we should keep turning right in the maze. We hit a few dead ends but using her instructions, we actually found our way to the exit—the correct exit, not the entrance I’d used the first time or the self-made exit of the rest of the group. And everyone made it to the hayride pick-up spot in time.
I confess I didn’t much like the maze. I didn’t like feeling lost and out of control. I did enjoy the companionship and there were lots of laughs and groans as we slip-slided through the mud and standing water. But I kept wishing that the farmer would have given us some clues—a map or flags at the entrance and exit—something to give a reference point. Alas, there was no such assistance.
What a great analogy for life—and for the life of faith too! Even when the path is clear and well-marked, it’s often hard to tell if it’s the right path or a dead end or one that will lead us the wrong direction. Even as we made directional choices, we didn’t always know what we were doing. Mostly we were making our best guess and hoping it turned out.
A couple of members of our group showed both initiative and wisdom. One decided to get off the path entirely and forge a new way. That worked for them, even if it meant the going was more difficult and that they had to walk the long way around to their destination.
The other member of the group used knowledge she’d gleaned in the past and she persisted in walking the maze, making turns based on her prior experience. Her choices were not always correct, but she was accurate more often than not. And thanks to her knowledge and our willingness to trust in her greater experience, we eventually found our way out.
I don’t think I have to say much more. You’ve got the analogy by now. Sometimes we have to forge a new way and sometimes we just have to be persistent and trust in someone who has greater knowledge or experience than us. Both ways led to the same end point, just using different routes.
And even though we were at times frustrated and even maybe a bit anxious about being lost, it was SO much better to be lost together. We were able to encourage each other and pool our shared resources to get to the right destination. That’s why we are church. It’s too hard and confusing to walk the path of faith alone.
And of course, as people of faith, we trust that no matter what bad turns we make, no matter if we must forge a new way or patiently walk the path before us, no matter how muddy or frustrated we get, we never walk alone. God is always present to encourage and sustain us and maybe even to laugh a bit when we turn into yet another dead end or fall into another puddle. To rephrase my young parishioner: At least we are lost with God.
I did not really enjoy my time in the corn maze. I don’t plan on doing it again any time soon. And when I DO try it again, I’ll make sure I don’t do it alone.