I love maps. I love maps I can hold in my hand and unfold on a table. I love Rand McNally atlases. I love globes. I love the placemat maps I got for my grandson, so that we can move his plate aside and find where we live and explore the country or the world. I love maps in malls and hotels that say “you are here.” When I lived in Paris years ago, I didn’t go anywhere without my paperback street guide which included maps of the Metro and bus routes. I always knew where I was, where I was going, and how to get there.
I’ve had many occasions in recent years to ride in the car while one of my daughters is driving. When they get in the car, they automatically program the GPS for their destination, and follow the moving arrow along with the spoken directions. The directions lead them one step at a time, guiding them just as far as the next turn. Even when it is somewhere that, at least in my opinion, they should know how to get to, they turn over the directions to the GPS and trust that it will get them there. They are content to know only their immediate instruction and seem unperturbed that the rest of the route is a mystery, revealed only as needed. It is, I’ve come to appreciate, a lesson in faith.
Like walking a labyrinth. There is a lovely labyrinth not far from me, nestled among trees and bushes in a beautiful garden adjoining a monastery. It is open to the public and I have walked it many times in all seasons. A labyrinth, unlike a maze, has only one route to the center. You cannot make a wrong turn. However, it is impossible to stand at the entrance and see how you are going to get from point A to point B. The path turns and winds in such a way that you can only see the segment immediately in front of you.
Walking a labyrinth is a meditation in being present, trusting that no matter how many twists and turns you take, you are being led without mistake on the path to God (or the center, or your true being, or enlightenment, or whatever term you want to use). And once you reach the center, after resting in the power of its energy, you turn and walk back out, again trusting the path to lead you, this time back into the world, carrying the experience of truth with you.
So I’m not going to scoff at my daughters anymore for their reliance on and trust in that GPS. It might not be as infallible as the labyrinth, but perhaps it is their version of a practice in being present and trusting in the goodness of the universe.
I can appreciate that…and still like maps.
If we learn to love the earth, we will find labyrinths, gardens, fountains, and precious jewels! A whole new world will open itself to us. We will discover what it means to be truly alive. ~Teresa of Avila