Recently I had the pleasure of going to Bedfordshire Archives to photograph some maps of Turvey parish for the Turvey History Society. It was quite a challenge, those old maps are definitely not pocket-size, they had to be laid out on the floor, fortunately there were three of us to do the job. By the end of the morning I was so tired that I could have photographed my foot and classified it as a geographical feature.
I like maps, and thanks to Emmaus Village Carlton, I have a nice little collection of Ordinance Survey maps, some more out of date than others. This might seem to be a strange interest for a Benedictine nun—not moving from monastery to monastery is one of the basic principles in the Benedictine way of life. St Benedict even wanted his monasteries to be as self-sufficient as possible, so that his monks didn’t need to leave the monastery—maybe that was easier to achieve in his day than in ours. Of course, we Benedictines are such a varied bunch that you will find all manner of different ways of living the monastic life and some Benedictines do move from one community to another.
Back to the maps. I know that reading maps isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, some can read them upside down, and some can’t. I enjoyed a Christmas card showing the three wise men looking at a map and having a big argument.
There have always been those who have aspired to give Christians a helping hand on their way through life by mapping out the Christian’s journey to God. St John of the Cross mapped out a very tough climb for Christians aspiring to reach, well, basically their full potential as human beings by becoming united with God—and finally suggests you should give up the map as well. Better switch on the satnav.
I’m not too keen on using the satnav, but how useful it is if you get stuck in a one way system or don’t want to spend for ever in a queue on a motorway, but you do need to put a bit of effort into using it if you don’t want to find yourself driving along a single track road to join the M1.
I am NOT going to try to drag in comparisons between satnavs and prayer, the whole GPS system in all its amazing complexity and accuracy has been created entirely by human beings, and the one thing we can’t do all by ourselves is plan out our own way through life, but as Christians we believe that in Jesus we have something much better than maps and satnavs to show us the way
So, whether we can read maps or not, let’s all enjoy our journey though life knowing that we have Someone to show us the way home.