I would not have chosen Finding Yourself in Transition by Robert Brumet as our summer text if I did not think it contained valuable wisdom for our faith journey. Brumet’s inspired use of the Exodus story to walk us through the stages of transition helps us face “leaving Egypt”—face the endings that inevitably come our way. It wasn’t easy for our Hebrew ancestors. They had doubts, fears, and second thoughts, but we gain strength and inspiration as we watch and learn how they walked away from the known into the unknown, into the crucible of wilderness wandering. Their story teaches us the formational gifts of that wilderness “Void”—how no longer having access to what has ended, not knowing what lies ahead, and encountering trial after trial forges a new identity, the identity of one who stands stronger trusting in God’s provision, because that provision has been demonstrated time after time.
Arriving at the Promised Land—New Beginnings—presents Brumet with a more daunting task. He wisely points out that a “subtle inner shift” heralds a new beginning and that we may “find very little has changed externally, but internally, we are no longer living in the same world.” But Wisdom traditions have been trying to pin down the meaning of “The Promised Land” for thousands of years and by his own admission Brumet says, at best “we can only point to it” with language. “Buddha left a road map. Jesus left a road map, Krishna left a road map,” all pointing the way to this illusive concept, says Brumet.
There are countless more “maps.” The number of maps seems to increase with the ease and speed of communications tools. Pretty much anyone who can post a blog can offer a “map,” which leads me to the questions for this week: What map will you use as you chart your course toward your “new beginning”? What criteria will you use in selecting your map? It makes a difference. In our chapter this week (chapter 9) Brumet quotes Richard Bach who writes, “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy.” What map is Bach using? Is Bach’s map pointed toward compassion, a reverence for our lived experience? Even if George Floyd is safe in “God’s loving arms,” is his young daughter ignorant if she views her father’s murder as an injustice? Even if the children slain at Sandy Hook live unharmed in the spiritual realm, are their parents ignorant if they deem never seeing their children again as a tragedy? If Bach drew on the Gospel of John’s admonition to “not judge by appearances” he has woefully lifted the text out of its context.
Not only does the map you choose matter, but how you read it matters! Asking critical questions regarding the destination and premise of the map matters. A clear-eyed assessment of the lens through which you read matters. As we wrap up our study over the next two weeks and head into Fall, my invitation to you is to consider the map you will use to head toward the “promised land,” the map you will use to chart the course toward your new beginning. How will you select the map and what criteria will you use for interpreting it? We will delve more deeply into this on Sunday. I have missed you and really look forward to seeing each of you!
Many blessings and much love to you all!