I have always loved maps. Maps of any kind always appealed to both my imagination and my desire to be able to see the whole landscape – not just to be anchored in one place. Maps are very often the starting point for getting to know other peoples, where and how they live, what they eat as well as how their lives differ from ours. Sometimes I wished to be in ‘that other place’ more than to be where I was at that given point in time.
Today in the news media I read about Japanese designers who may have created the most accurate map of our world. Instead of abstracting the globe of the Earth into a cylinder, then a plane, they turned the earth into a tetrahedron, which then unfolds in any number of ways, as you can see further up, and “can be tessellated just like an MC Escher painting… much in the same way that we can traverse the planet without ever coming to an end.” Rather than having one focal point e.g. the North Atlantic, nearly any place around the Earth can be at the centre. Versions of this map are already being used in Japanese textbooks, and you can purchase a poster or buy a paper kit that allows you to unfold your own globe-to-tetrahedron-to-rectangle map.
A living map
However, the Map that moved me most in recent times and that took my breath away, is ‘that particular map’ which appears in the very opening pages of our new book: ‘Nano Nagle: The Life and the Legacy’.
It fans out to represent the journeys of so many Presentation Sisters who started out from Ireland to make Nano’s message a global one. Bringing with their hands, feet and hearts a faith and commitment to work with, and for those ‘made poor’, more often in challenging conditions far from their greatest imaginings. Mapping a world and experience very different from Ireland. Then from those initial foundations the ‘fanning out’ of Presentation journeys continued again, almost as if weaving a web of care and commitment that holds the world within it, but always open to the next ‘opening out’.
So maps are not intangible things. To ‘map’ one needs to have ‘walked the walk’ and to have continued on in other‘s footsteps, as well as cutting new paths and other routes.
This poem by Brother Richard Hendrick, seems to explain best of all the kind of map I am talking about:
Lean back into the embrace
of Divine Love.
You are the visible crest of a wave travelling over a deep ocean of love, so what have you to fear?
Lean back into the presence
of all the holy ones gone before;
known or unknown,
of all times and places,
they support you,
surrounding you on your way as a forest surrounds the smallest sprouting seed.
There is not one of them
who does not daily
will the full flowering of life in you.
Lean back into their strength.
Lean back into their love.
Lean back into the deep river
of the ancestors
from whom you came.
However they lived then,
they offer, at the very least,
wisdom as to how to be now.
Lean back into their stories;
the dancing entwinement
of their lineages
has brought you forth,
has clothed you
in flesh and blood and bone.
In your body
a thousand generations
walk again upon the world,
in your eyes
a unique soul gazes
out upon the world.
Lean back into all those
who have made you, you;
parents, siblings, family, neighbours,
friends, lovers, colleagues,
the passing encounters of a moment,
the deep connections that last a lifetime,
they all travel with you.
Did they bring you joy, light, love?
Then give thanks,
for they have taught you how to be.
Did they bring you sadness, darkness, pain?
Then give thanks,
for they have taught you how not to be.
Lean back into the enormity
of the vast spaciousness you are,
a being in time meant for eternity
a being of body, mind, heart, soul
a being never alone
a being of Love’s holding in being
a being coming from Love’s creation
a being returning to Love’s embrace
a being who in every moment may
lean back into Divine Love.
~ Brother Richard Hendrick
Note: Brother Richard is a priest-friar of the Irish branch of the Capuchin Franciscan Order. For over twenty years he has worked to bring the insights of the Christian contemplative tradition to greater public awareness, particularly with reference to modern mindfulness theory.
To find out more about ‘Nano Nagle: The Life and the Legacy’ see HERE