Monday, 24 March 2014

Sensing Lent 17: Map

Maps and I have never had a very good relationship. 

I'm fairly sure there must be a dyslexia-type term for people like me who have trouble internalising routes and directions, and need to turn the map upside down to work out if it's left or right. And as for the Google maps 3D version, where you're not travelling down the map but up it apparently, as you work your way through the stages of your route, I'm all at sixes and sevens with that. I usually set out from home to find some new part of the Diocese, with several sheets of Google maps print outs, plus the route on iPhone and an atlas for good measure. People keep telling me I should get a Sat Nav but I fear my spatial awareness will dwindle to nothing if I capitulate.

Thankfully for the iNtuitives among us, who are more likely to 'assume' something is on the right because of some vague intuition, when the map is clearly pointing left, maps are much more than physical representations of where you are and where you're going.

I'm currently at the Oxford Diocese clergy conference and we have a large map of the Oxford Diocese with coloured stickers to show where we are all from. It feels like home. It tells me where I belong geographically but also spiritually. 

It takes a while to feel at home in a place spiritually, but once you do, the actual place where you live can minister to you, which is a good thing, as ministry often seems to involve a lot of being in the car. Apart from the physical things that rush by - rivers, roads, trees, shops, parks, skies, you also feel spiritually connected to the sacred places, experiences and people that make up the Diocese. It's all in the memory - years of walking and talking with the people of God in the hereabouts of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. I suppose you can't have the one without the other.

It's a bit like those maps you get in towns where a large arrow states 'You are here'. Its always good to know where you are and where you are going, physically and geographically. To ask the same question spiritually is harder, but more fruitful. And that's what we're here to do, as a body and perhaps also individually. I hope I am more successful in this latter endeavour than when it comes to finding my way around the Diocese using Google maps.

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