Posts Tagged ‘map

25
Jan
21

My Coffee Cup

Before I saw it with my own eyes, I would have told you it was not possible. 

But then it happened. I shifted my own paradigm. 

Just so we are on the same page here, the dictionary.com definition of the word “paradigm” is: “A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a… community.” 

In other words, a paradigm (PAIR-uh-dime) is the picture I carry in my head of the world and how it works. 

All of us operate with paradigms – or maps of reality – that help us make sense of the seemingly random events in our day. Most of the time, they are reliable reference points for us as we navigate through the world.

Reliable, that is, until they are blown to smithereens by something that just doesn’t fit our map. 

The morning in question started innocently enough. I got up, went to the kitchen, let the dogs out, and made coffee. However, this time, instead of putting Joan’s coffee cup on the right and my coffee cup on the left, I switched them. And then, because the cups were in the wrong places, I poured the sweetened almond milk creamer into MY cup instead of Joan’s. 

And because I consider anything other than black coffee to be an abomination (I think you can find that somewhere in the book of Leviticus, actually), I was forced to drink my coffee out of THE WRONG CUP that morning!

It was horrible. For starters, Joan’s cup is too narrow.  It is NOT made of clear glass but rather opaque pottery. It holds far too big a serving. The handle is the wrong shape. But mostly, it is NOT the cup I have been drinking coffee out of for AT LEAST the last 25 years. 

As you can tell, I have become quite attached to that coffee cup. You can’t see it now, but on the outside of my coffee cup there once was a map of the world. The cup is sort of globular in shape and once had all the gridlines and continents visible there on its surface.

Drinking coffee from that cup every morning provided me with a tangible reminder that I am part of a vastly wider human community… a human community that encompasses languages, skin tones, beliefs, topography, and weather that do not bear the slightest resemblance to mine.  

My Nescafe “World Mug” has helped me remember that MY paradigm is not THE paradigm. It is one map of reality, jostling for recognition alongside a gajillion other maps. 

As shocking as it is to imagine, for example, the Kansas City Chiefs are not EVERYONE’S favorite football team! Some people also seem to insist that there are OTHER pies besides key lime to consume and enjoy… other cars than the Nissan Altima to drive… other TV quiz shows than Jeopardy to watch… and othergrandchildren than my eight to be doted over and spoiled. 

Can you imagine

Fortunately, all is not lost. When we encounter – as I did and as we all eventually will – those jarring events that upset our personal apple carts, it is good to remember that we can each have access to THE Paradigm.

It is God’s paradigm. And it is helpfully laid out for all to see, right there in the pages of God’s eternal word. 

When the Psalmist looks up in the night sky and rhapsodizes like this: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4, NRSV), it is to remind us of our smallness and God’s grandeur… simultaneously. 

And to reassure us that in God’s paradigm, we each occupy a sacred, unmovable spot.

When I am able to stop for a moment and remember that core truth, my heart skips a beat, then settles down a little.

I hope yours does, too.

Abundant blessings;

17
Dec
20

Trusting the Master Mapmaker

I am not exactly sure when it started, but for a very long time I’ve had a deep fascination with MAPS.

I remember my very real excitement when – at the age of eight or nine – my grandfather handed me a folded, paper map and asked me to navigate as he drove us to the location of our family picnic. 

Of course, the first thing I had to do was turn the map so that it was pointed in the same direction we were driving. But once I got that part figured out, I reveled in being able to say, “OK, grandpa… we have to turn left at the next road we see.”

Oh the POWER!

I think the thing that fascinated me the most about maps was trying to figure out just exactly how they were drawn in the first place. I mean, how can something as HUGE as the entire state of Ohio be accurately drawn on a piece of paper the size of my Big Chief notebook? How was anyone – especially in the days before airplanes – able to draw an accurate picture of exactly how much that river squiggled or exactly where that coastline took a 90-degree bend to the west?

The only reference point I had to the world around me was the stuff I saw right in front of my eyes. It was mystical beyond comprehension how anyone could create a total, unified picture of how everything beyond that fit together.

To be honest, I still find it pretty mystical. 

[And I might or might not just be talking about maps here.]

Later in life, I also realized that successful map use also requires a great deal of TRUST. This is true whether we are talking about paper maps, (yes, Dorothy… there really was once such a thing), or our handheld Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems. When the voice – or the map – says, “Turn left in 500 feet,” we have to trust that this advice is really taking us in the direction we want to go.

All of this brings to mind a section in the book of Job. In case a refresher is needed, Job was the famously faithful man in the Old Testament that God agreed to “test.” And by TEST, I mean visit every possible affliction imaginable on (including putting up with the advice of well-meaning, but misguided “friends”) to see how his faith held out. 

SPOILER ALERT: Job passed the test…

… but not before expressing some serious doubts about whether God actually knew what God was doing. You know, a little like you and I might be tempted to do during a time of global pandemic, political unrest, severe economic distress, personal loss and hardship, and winter.

God listens patiently to Job’s complaint and then replies. Actually, God’s reply covers three entire chapters of the book, so I will just include this tiny snippet here:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
    I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?’”
                               (Job 38:1-7, NRSV)

I always thought God sounded a little snarky there, but Job got the message… LOUD AND CLEAR. The Master Mapmaker sees and knows the Big Picture… because he CREATED IT!

You and I see only the tiniest slice of reality and from that we draw global, all-encompassing – and usually incorrect – conclusions. Job finally learned that when he trusted the facts that 1.) there IS a map and 2.) that map is totally trustworthy. 

Job was at last able to gaze upon his tiny slice of the known universe and find real joy in it… even when the picture he saw looked gloomy.  

Hopefully I am learning a similar lesson from these fraught, frightening times. Hopefully I am becoming more able to see both the Big Map and the Small Beauties…

… and finding joy in both.

Abundant blessings;

22
Jun
20

Is This Such A Good Idea?

Growing-Flower-in-ConcreteThere is a basic premise behind this post you should be aware of before proceeding further. The premise is: GOD EXISTS.

Of course, you may continue reading even if you disagree with my basic premise. You just might not enjoy it as much as others.

The question I want to raise here might sound blasphemous to people of faith, but it is one that has troubled me for a long time. So, I figured, what the heck… the blog space might be a good place to chew it over.

That question is: WAS GOD CRAZY? IS GOD CRAZY?

In asking this absurd question, I am not worried about a lightning bolt shooting down from heaven, leaving behind a pile of charred cinders where I once sat. This question comes from the same place as the fable of the seven blind men standing around the elephant, feeling different parts of the beast and saying, “No… THIS is what an elephant is!”

My question comes from a place of a hopelessly flawed and incomplete understanding of something that is infinitely larger and infinitely more complex than my pea-sized brain can grasp.

Actually I am betting that God is more amused than angered by my question.

But here is where my question comes from: with the availability of the infinite power, knowledge, and authority befitting a being named GOD, why did said God choose to leave so much raw agency in OUR shaky hands?

Honestly, sometimes God’s choice to give human beings the gift of free will feels a little like a parent choosing to give a three-year-old a handgun, the keys to a car, and a can of gasoline and then saying, “Good luck with all of that!”

And as you and I and a host of bad actors all around us continue to soil and char and trash our world and its inhabitants, it boggles my mind to try and figure out why God chooses to keep extending our, “… dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”(Gen. 1:28, NRSV).

Is that really turning out to be such a great idea?

To help guide us on our stumbling, faltering way, of course, God has blessed us with a ROAD MAP.  It is all spelled out exquisitely in that sixty-six-book collection known as The Bible.

I mean, yes, God INSPIRED the words of the Bible (as it says there in 2 Timothy 3:167), but here again, God left the TRANSCRIPTION of God’s word in the hands of flawed, fallible human beings.

God then took this silliness a step further and deputized some of these same stumbling, blind, three-year-olds (people like ME, for example) to speak on behalf of The Almighty and lead others into something resembling faithful obedience.

Hence my original question: “Is God crazy?”

On one hand, it all seems like a system exquisitely designed for failure. That is, until one tiny bud of green life pushes its way up through the blanket of ash and begins craning its neck toward the sun… reminding anyone who cares to listen that, “… where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Romans 5:20, NRSV).

It might not always seem true, but it always has been, always is, and always will be true; Grace overcomes sin. Light overcomes darkness. Love overcomes hate.

So maybe this IS the way it is supposed to work after all.

 

Abundant blessings;




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