Map Musing

Greetings beloveds! What have you been up to recently? Are you back to moving and shaking again? Have you been out and about? Perhaps even travelling again? It’s been on my mind and what I’ve been musing about this week. Okay, maybe not the travelling itself… but the mapping and planning. We’ve been driving around a lot lately … no big trips, but we are constantly plugging destinations into the ol’ Phone GPS. The “Global Positioning System” (yes, I had to look it up) contains 3 parts… the space system that uses something way out there to find your position in comparison to the whole world, the control system, that makes sense out of all that space place data, and then the user component (that’s you and me) who plug in what we want to know into our little personal maps. It’s a complex system but ever so helpful — until it’s not.

Have you ever entered an address only to “arrive at your destination” and not be where you wanted to be? It happened to us once across the border. Somehow we got led under a bridge underpass and down a dirt road to a dead-end stop next to a big chain link fence. Not the address we were hoping for. Or entered a setting with no tolls or highways and get wandering in circles because the most direct route was avoided? Or like me, with no data coverage and your GPS is useless because it is missing one of the “space” or “control” components? I know, I know, some days the old method of paper maps folded out on the roof of the car and highlighted or sharpie markered routes were easier and better. Or CAA “triptics”. Or what were those big yellow spiral-bound map books called that everyone had stashed in the sides of their car doors? Those were fun.

Cartography is generally considered to be the science and art of designing, constructing and producing maps. It includes almost every operation from original fieldwork to the final printing and marketing of maps.  I have visions of great pirates marking islands on ships as master seafarers of old. Or trailblazers traipsing through thick forests hacking away at overgrowth. Did you read my post about Dashrath Manijhi? He was a trailblazer. (Read about it here) I think Google does it now. Art or computer — it is for sure a needed skill. When they were younger, our kids loved to create and participate in scavenger hunts and treasure mapping. They even dabbled a little in geocaching and finding treasures hidden there by someone else. There is value in knowing about maps and how to get to where you need to be.

If you are like me, you like to know the route. You like to see what’s coming and when it’s coming. You want to be prepared for obstacles and time delays. You want to be in control of your final destination. You want to have a plan. We all know that that is not always the case. Space, controls, and often the end users invariably make mistakes or miss something. We enter bad data and get unfinished or incomplete results. Sometimes this means we miss the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes it means we have great adventures and discover new things. I suppose it depends on your perspective on the journey. The road less travelled, or the predictable and safe route?

Don’t you love it when there are clearly marked paths with signage and direction? We know that our Bible is God’s handbook in life. We understand that God has “given us the Way” through His scriptures, lessons and promises. We read verses about preparing a place for us and knowing the plans to prosper you and give hope to your future. If we look around we can also see the landmarks that God has placed along the path: a chance meeting here, a phone call there, a “circumstance” that leads us in one direction or another. We have to look for them as markers though. And sometimes we drive by too quickly to notice them.

How many times have I prayed for myself and others that God would show us a clear path, a distinct open or closed door, a sign to know which route is the best. Often I am out of range or have little data available on that life GPS… and I don’t get my controlled and direct route marked out in yellow highlighter. So I wait. And I try and look around and gather my bearings and read the signs as best I can. Then, the only way to know is to move forward and see where the path leads. A great adventure? Or a chain link fence under a concrete underpass? You can always re-calculate, re-calibrate and turn around. The final destination may just take a little longer. It’s worth the trip. Happy trails, friends!