November 14, 2013

Playing an Infinite Game in the Labyrinth

By Margaret Rappaport

Theologian James Carse, Professor at New York University, and author of”Finite and Infinite Games” identified two types of games. Finite Games are familiar and Infinite Games are novel. Finite games end. They have a winner and a loser, even when only one person plays. I’m sure you can list all the ball games and the card games and the puzzles that are finite games. Infinite games, however, are games that don’t end. They are games that stay in play from time to time and from place to place. These games are observable if you are prepared to look for them but describing them is hard.

Walking the labyrinth is an infinite game. As long and as often as we walk it never has an ending. When our current walk concludes, we are aware that there is a next time and the labyrinth will always be the same. We may not be the same and the walk won’t be the same but the space will be the same welcoming shape it always is. Our experience will be different and familiar at the same time. One walk is in some ways like another yet in most ways it is unique.

Walking the labyrinth gets us in touch with the infinite as the spiral paths won’t yield to our sense of time management and control. We are unable to predict our pace and our thoughts and feelings as we walk. Often we have an awareness that time has slowed down or sped up. We feel detached from everyday life and yet we find ourselves in the insights that come to us.

The infinite game of walking the labyrinth doesn’t have an outcome. It begins and continues. We pick up unconscious currents that shape us. We may experience transcendence from the ordinary without fearing loss of control. It is an infinite game that is played to lose our usual sense of security. As an infinite game it is played to embrace freedom. The labyrinth is an infinite game because it is played to find out, to find ourselves, to go beyond.

Looking forward,
Margaret Rappaport
Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator