Three weeks of heaven ... For the past three weeks, my family and I vacationed in Santa Fe and Taos, N.M., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Carlsbad, Calif. Put another way, over the past three weeks I traveled back 500 years in Santa Fe, when the Spanish discovered that new land south of Colorado, and I swam in the timeless, seemingly bottomless Pacific Ocean day after day after day, feeling the aged universe and our mother earth caressing me over and over and over, restoring me with energies arising from mysterious places formed millennia ago. I feel alive again as only a vacation involving age-old, primordial haunts can produce. And I thank two very important beings for my stint in paradise: I thank my darling wife, and I thank each and every map we used to eventually find all the beautiful places where we stayed.
After traveling to numerous unknown cities and towns, I believe maps need a new place of honor and a new title. Maps must be called “M.A.P.S.” – Mysterious Avenues Providing Solutions. To find out where we need to go and to find out where we hope to actually arrive, we need M.A.P.S., telling us our direction in life, naming what avenues our trusty vehicle finds itself travelling on, solving mysteries that confound us, providing us innocent travelers with solutions for our lost sense of direction.
Our family employed “Mysterious Avenues Providing Solutions” hour after hour to eventually land at our desired locations, and we journeyed down more than a few very mysterious avenues following M.A.P.S.’ recommendations during the day and at night, never completely certain that our destination existed in reality. M.A.P.S. told us, “Your destination belongs here.” We responded with simple trust, hoping for M.A.P.S.’ accuracy.
Other M.A.P.S. stand readily available to all of us; and, one of those M.A.P.S. that we can use every day we call “The Bible.” The Bible is a compendium of stories teaching us about life’s endless mysterious avenues. Some of those avenues guide us toward good and safe and wholesome destinations, where we find love, security, and hopefulness. Biblical narratives, especially wisdom literature, like Ecclesiastes, Job, Psalms, Wisdom of Solomon, Lamentations, and the Song of Solomon can direct our life’s travels, guiding us to destinations where what is good abounds. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and especially Deuteronomy offer stories about how to live, including pitfalls to avoid. Reading Samuel and Kings or any of the prophets, like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel gives clear direction for us and for our nation. And then the Gospels and Paul’s Letters invite us on avenues and roadways that ultimately improve our lives and the lives of those around us. In so many ways, the Bible belongs in our library of M.A.P.S.
While we traveled a geographical and historical journey over the last three weeks, during the remaining 49 weeks of the year, we intend to take a different type of journey. We plan to take a spiritual journey – a journey within our heart, soul, and mind without ever leaving Cortez; and, this journey requires a map different from the one we used on our vacation. It requires the Bible and its guidance. And like many M.A.P.S., the Bible can wind up in our collection of M.A.P.S. completely free of charge. We often asked for and received free maps from hotel clerks. Getting a free Bible happens just as easily.
So now that we arrived home filled with wonderful memories of places we never visited before, we hope that over the remainder of this year that we can arrive at new destinations in our spiritual journey here on earth, where rest from our labors and hope for a just and kind nation will continue to inspire us along our life’s journey.
Thomas Towns is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cortez.