Sorting through my sister’s garage
recently, I stumbled across something
I recognized immediately – my mother’s
leather portfolio full of maps, all still
nestled in there. It’s burgundy, with the
scrapes and scratches of time, and
zippered pockets full of maps – city maps,
state maps, national park maps. And
inside it still smells like our old house,
My mother taught elementary school briefly before she began having children, and I remember her telling me that she recommended to her administrators that young students be taught to use maps. This of course seems quaint now, and yet…consider what’s to be gained by seeing the context of the geography of our locations and our lives.
Mom read maps like others read novels. She loved to study on paper the terrain, the highways, the rivers and lakes, the county lines, and the distances before we would travel them, on our vacations in the station wagon with no air conditioning. The leather portfolio of maps always accompanied us on those trips, and it also had a place in the living room at home near her regular chair.
But even though we had all those maps, we would often “wing it” on those family trips to a new place. It was common for us to have no motel reservation, and we’d just check out places with a Vacancy sign that looked good to us. In this way, we landed one summer day quite by chance at a magical group of housekeeping cabins on the Big Thompson River in Estes Park. This precious place became a regular destination year after year, the very touchstone of our family soul, discovered simply by being on that road, on that day, at that time.
I consider myself blessed that I was taught to honor both the map and the road – to research and learn and plan, but also to step into the moment and be fully present to what my friend Caryn calls “signs and wonders.” Because sometimes what we have planned makes us fully recognize the epiphany about what has been calling us all along – and sometimes the idea that lights us up needs a map and a plan to find its way into the world.
And this is why I love the Big Picture Retreat that Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and I are leading in October (Oct. 20-22, 2023) at Unity Village in Kansas City. It’s a golden weekend pause to rediscover and reconnect with what work calls to us, and to imagine and plan what we want to bring into the world in the coming year. And along the way, we have a rousing good time, creative company, outstanding food, and a gorgeous setting. Consider joining us,
And in the meantime, we invite you to consider how you blend the gifts of the map and the road.