“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.” Adrienne Rich
OFF MAP -FOLLOW THE TERRAIN
“Sit down and weep”, not something I have considered during this period of containment. I own but have not read a book titled “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept”. I like the title so well I am not sure I will ever read what is inside. Weeping appears to be a more enlightened form of crying. Do we weep for humanity and cry for ourselves?
I want to learn how to ‘weep’ and then search out ‘those among’ us who could acknowledge my strength as a warrior. My hope is they are waiting somewhere ‘off map’, beyond the beyond.
This poem by Joyce Rupp, OLD MAPS NO LONGER WORK speaks to that part that yearns to go ‘off map’ and discover new terrain… perhaps that decision has already been made for us.
“It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, ‘Being here is so much,’ and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.”
John O’Donohue quote from Anam Cara
Just over a year ago I posted one of my favorite Joyce Rupp poems “Old Maps No Longer Work” on this site.
For reasons that are still a mystery to me, the link ended up at the top of the search list on Google for that poem. Every day since, at least one person somewhere in the world read it on the site. The constant attention given to the piece prompted me to reread it many times over the last year. Each reading took me deeper into understanding what it meant to be ‘off map’ or ‘mapless’.
As the decade comes to a close I feel compelled to let go of some of my “well travelled paths” with gratitude to where the twists and turns of life have led me but now “It is time for the pilgrim in me to travel in the dark” and “wait for the stars.”
For the next year when I find myself at the inevitable crossroads we all have to face in life, I will repeat the following lines:
“The Map is not the Territory. When Map and Terrain differ, follow the Terrain.”
I keep pulling it out –
the old map of my inner path
I squint closely at it,
trying to see some hidden road
that maybe I’ve missed,
but there’s nothing there now
except some well travelled paths.
they have seen my footsteps often,
held my laughter, caught my tears.
I keep going over the old map
but now the roads lead nowhere,
a meaningless wilderness
where life is dull and futile.
“toss away the old map,” she says
“you must be kidding!” I reply.
she looks at me with Sarah eyes
and repeats “toss it away.
It’s of no use where you’re going.”
“I have to have a map!” I cry,
“even if it takes me nowhere.
I can’t be without direction,”
“but you are without direction,”
she says, “so why not let go, be free?”
so there I am – tossing away the old map,
sadly fearfully, putting it behind me.
“whatever will I do?” wails my security
“trust me” says my midlife soul.
no map, no specific directions,
no “this way ahead” or “take a left”.
how will l know where to go?
how will I find my way? no map!
but then my midlife soul whispers
“there was a time before maps
when pilgrims travelled by the stars.”
It is time for the pilgrim in me
to travel in the dark,
to learn to read the stars
that shine in my soul.
I will walk deeper
into the dark of my night.
I will wait for the stars.
trust their guidance.
and let their light be enough for me.