Autumn is my favorite time of year. In the Southeast, the weather becomes very pleasant, leaves change color, pumpkins are everywhere and both big and little kids alike enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Another fall activity that has only added to my love of the season is solving the Amazing Maize Maze put on by a local farm in our area every year.
It’s a pretty incredible operation. Each fall, seven acres of corn fields are turned into an intricate maze. Participants are given a blank map broken into nine segments. The map segments can only be found by physically passing through that section of the maze and locating the mailbox where the puzzle pieces are hidden. As the pieces are affixed to the map, new paths are revealed and the way out becomes more clear. You can work your way out of the maze without the map. But it is far easier and faster to find all the puzzle pieces, then figure out the path out on the map and follow it to the exit.
The Amazing Maize Maze is loads of fun. Individuals can try to go it alone or it can be done in groups. I’ve been to this corn maze many times with several different groups and I always have fun looking at the time records for getting through the maze. It usually takes me about an hour. Each season the fastest time seems to be around 20 minutes. Some groups can take a few hours. Everyone is given a 10 foot flag that sticks out above the top of the corn so that the maze staff can help anyone that gets stuck out there. In other words, you can’t get trapped because there is always help. For some, it can be a competition. For others, its just a fun way to spend a day with family for friends.
You might be wondering what this corn maze has to do with the spiritual journey we are all on. Well, actually it doesn’t take much to see that the corn maze is an incredible metaphor for the hero’s journey. We are born into this world with a blank map. As we each travel our own path, we have direct experiences and collect clues about where to go next and where we might be heading as a final destination. We can try to go it alone, or we can do it with friends and family. We can ask strangers for help and make friends in the process. We can wander along and try to figure out the right way without a map or we can be very intentional about collecting all of the clues and charting our way out. We can get frustrated or pissed off or we can be curious, focused or apathetic.
Regardless of how it gets done, everyone makes it out of the corn maze eventually. Some choose to come back and go through it again and some choose to never come back. There is no wrong or right way to do it. And when you finally pass through the exit, you look back and remember the journey you just completed. After all it was the journey that was the point.