“The map is not the territory.” This quote reminds me that while maps, like the ones in this issue, can be seen, there is more to a place and a person than meets the eye. We use our sense of sight when we follow a map. But the reality of a place is experienced through our wider senses—our senses of touch, taste, smell, sound, intuition—all ways of experiencing places beyond our vision.
If you were to visit the territory described by these maps, you might feel rain on your face, smell baked bread, hear children’s laughter, hug away tears, taste a cool sip of lemonade, feel a soft blanket against your face or experience some unforeseen joy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love maps. When I traveled by car in my 20s from college in New York City to my family home outside Chicago, I followed a route outlined by paper maps. Years later, to get to a Mission u in Montana with my children, I followed the printout of directions from MapQuest on the computer. Nowadays, I simply plug in my destination on my GPS or smartphone and zip off.
Technology has helped us find our way. We can send photos, music, birth announcements through social media. Even our beloved response magazine is available electronically. Yes, times have changed. But still, we need to know where we’re going and where we are. We still need maps. That’s the point of the maps in this issue.
That, too, is the point of Lent, a period of self-discipline that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10. I am not, by nature, a disciplined person. But every Lent I commit to a practice of focusing more intently and loving more deeply. Just as each new day is filled with more light, as we travel from winter to spring, so, too, the light of love through United Methodist Women is entering our lives and calling us to brighter days.
As you enter this period of Lent, ask yourself: Where is my map? How do I find my way? How will I be guided? How will I connect to places on these maps? How do I brighten my days and the days of others? How do I share my growing springtime?
As we depend on new technologies to guide us, let us remember there is no substitute for basic human connection and kindness. While we enjoy social media, a great way to savor the past and to plan for the future, life is more meaningful when we are truly present to our United Methodist Women friends and families.
In conversation in our United Methodist Women circles, we enter the here and now. We are part of the real world. We have heartbeats. Our United Methodist Women is more than a spot on the map. United Methodist Women is a few years shy of a 150-year anniversary. We celebrate and focus on love as we embark on our anniversary and this Lenten season. We realize we are in the territory and we are on a journey.
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