I received two poems this week from friends about the cartography of our lives. One is a Passover poem by Alla Bozarth-Campbell (one of the earliest female priests ordained by the Episcopal Church) quite out of season but still compelling and relevant to our own personal journeying. The other one, called "Old Maps No Longer Work," was written by Joyce Rupp, a spiritual director, writer, and a member of the Servites (Servants of Mary) community.
Here is a little sample from "Passover Remembered:"
as you go, and hold close together.
You may at
times grow confused and lose your way.
to call each other by the names I’ve given you,
to help remember who you are.
get where you’re going
who you are.
other and keep telling the stories.
as you go, remembering the way.
and a few excerpts from "Old Maps No Longer Work," by Joyce Rupp:
I keep pulling it out –
the old map of my inner path.
I squint closely at it,
trying to see some hidden road
that maybe I’ve missed,
but there’s nothing there now
except some well-travelled paths.
They have seen my footsteps often,
held my laughter, caught my tears.
I keep going over the old
but now the roads lead nowhere,
a meaningless wilderness
where life is dull and futile….
It is time for the pilgrim
to travel in the dark,
to learn to read the stars
that shine in my soul.
I will walk deeper
into the dark of my night.
I will wait for the stars.
Trust their guidance.
And let their light be enough for me.
As you can imagine, I am curious about this "coincidence" of receiving these two poems in the same week. When that kind of synchronicity happens, I sit up and pay attention with a bit more alertness and focus.
I have some sentimental memories of paper maps, compasses, and the "well-traveled paths" of my family history. Today our navigation tools are GPS and websites like Mapquest and Google Maps, and our feeling of home is shifting moment by moment.
"Passover Remembered" begins with this powerful stanza:
nothing. Bring only your determination to serve
your willingness to be free.
Now that I think about it, it does tie in a little bit (ok, it's a stretch, but go with me on this one) with the Chanukah theme of miracles. One of the blessings recited on Chanukah is as follows (my version, not the traditional one):
Brucha at Yah Ruach ha'Olamim, she'asah nisim lavoteynu bayamin ha'hem baz'man ha'zeh.
Blessed are you, Spirit of All Worlds, who made miracles for our ancestors in those days past and in our present moment.
The wording is a little quirky, especially with the verb tenses: "made/make miracles in the past and in the present."
Instructions for the map of miracles:
Leave all of our baggage behind. Trust that what we need will be provided. Hold onto our generosity and our willingness to be free. Sing songs as we go, holding each other close and remembering who we are.