Following on from last weeks question ‘where have you come from‘ this week we looked at the maps that help or guide us.
After yet another selection of excellent cakes and chat as we got to know more new members we were invited to enter the chapel. At the entrance was a card that talked about maps and the line that marks the edge of them. Those who are map fans will know the frustration of having a map that only takes you so far, of encountering the thick line at the edge that marks the end of what can be known. But there are always other maps that take us beyond there.If we don’t have that map then we need to take a risk and step into someone else’s territory. The card asked the question ‘Is the gift of faith for you knowing where the edges of your map exist, or stepping beyond them into another’s world and life?’
Inside the chapel were a series of different prayer installations
On a table were lots of little bottles with ripped up pieces of map inside each one. on and around the table were torn up pages
of a map. The text next to the table spoke about those who have to navigate inhospitable maps in our strange country. Of how sometimes it can feel that the map has been ripped up. We were invited to remember the dreams of other people – for a new, better, secure life, and to pray for a different kind of world. If we felt able we were invited to take a little bottle as a sing of our commitment to work for the day when all people will know home.
On the floor was a large sheet of card. Stuck to it were outlines of different countries, but with gaps between them. In the gaps we were asked to write our prayers for the different countries, for the tensions between them and for those stuck in the gaps.
There was a small book and some pens. It simply invited us to write our prayer for tomorrow on the next blank page in the book. The pages were translucent. As more prayers were written into the book you could see them accumulated on the pages.
A map of the university campus was on a table. It had had all the labels and place names removed and was coloured with different zones. The key to the map showed where hope, wonder, bewilderment, regret and fear might be found. People were invited to write or draw the things that make the landscape of their life onto a little flag – the things that cause wonder or hope or bewilderment or that cause regret or fear. The flags were then put into appropriate places on the map.
Although each of these was a reflective prayer installation to be engaged with individually there was a real sense of praying together as a community when there were several people sat around each of the installations. Taking time to read other peoples flags or entries on the map or in the book offered a sense of praying for and with each other that shifted the focus from being individual to being community.