Map on a Wall

This fall I’ve taught the Mentored Leadership Development Sequence for Bethel Seminary. Each week (well just about each week), I write up a reflection that invites students to continue to develop and press into the formational work and invitations of the course. And though I haven’t shared other reflections, I wanted to share my final one from the term. It centers around a song by Lucy Dacus that my friend, Brett, shared with me called Map on a Wall (you can buy the album, No Burden, online).


Dear Class-

And just like that, another term finds its ending…how does this always come so soon?

I pray that this term has been a time of deepening formation, integration, and development in your life, ministry, relationships, and self.


REFLECTION

As we come to the end of the term, I wondered at what I wanted to share to close this chapter. And I am struck by this thought: formation and the journey of faith is one which is always inviting, ever changing us.

Often, we approach faith as if it were a set of propositions that we must capture or believe accurately or fully…yet only when we open our hands do we discover that the way of following God is about a journey of formation, transformation (or in the historic words of our faith, it is about sanctification and discipleship).

And I am struck how WE… WE who are fashioned in the image of God, WE to whom God calls to each of us in our skin, in the midst of our own stories…in our insecurities and imperfections…in the midst of our quirks, and in our authentic selves…WE are the bearers of hope; WE are the ones who are called to be the embodiment of the love of God in our world. And this journey of faith invites all of who we are and asks, invites, and indeed beckons us to take journeys that move us away from what we once found familiar and called home. This is a journey into new life and new birth. It is the journey of formation.

The invitation requires risk…it asks from us vulnerability. Musical artist Lucy Dacus captures so much of this journey in her song “Map on a Wall“.

Oh please, don’t make fun of me, 
of my crooked smile and my crowded teeth, 
of my pigeon feet, of my knobby knees. 
Well, I got more problems than not. 

But I feel fine and I made up my mind 
to live happily, feeling beautiful beneath the trees 
above a ground that’s solid at the core. 

Oh please, don’t make fun of me. 
Oh you know I get frightened so easily 
when I’m all alone and the floorboards creak. 
It’s those noises in the dark. 

But I am alive and I made up my mind 
to live fearlessly, running wild beneath the trees 
above a ground that’s solid at the core. 


Send my regards to the north my friends. 
I am built for the heat, I regret to admit. 
My fear of freezing keeps me on my feet 
and so far my whole life’s one long lucky streak. 
They say you should take the credit when it comes, 
but I believe in haunted wood. 

Oh please, don’t make fun of me. 
Oh I’ll try my best to tell it like it is, 
but I’ll bite my tongue and I’ll close my lips 
when nobody wants to hear it. 

But here we are and something about it doesn’t feel like an accident. 
We’re all looking for something to adore 
and how to survive the bending and breaking. 

I’ve walked on two legs since I was a child, 
but when did I realize that some ways out, 
past the horizon for thousands of miles 
there are people like me, walking on legs like mine? 

Coming closer and farther away. 
Coming to me and from my embrace. 
Hoping good comes from good 
and good comes from bad anyway. 

Oh please, don’t make fun of me 
with my heart of gold and my restless soul. 
Oh please, don’t make fun of me. 
This smile happens genuinely. 

If you want to see the world, you have to say goodbye 
cause a map does no good hanging on a wall. 
If you want to see the world, you have to say goodbye 
cause a map does no good hanging on a wall.

For if we desire to discover the wonder of life lived in freedom; “if we want to see the world” then we do, indeed, “have to say goodbye because a map does no good hanging on a wall.”

May you ever more become more of a leader who is willing to say yes to God’s continual invitations; may your faith not be a “map on a wall” but a real, lived, embodied, messy faith. And may the God of Love, and the Spirit of Truth be with you to comfort, sustain, encourage, challenge, and transform your heart and mind ever more.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Warmly,

Sara Wilhelm Garbers, M.Div.

Instructor ML575DE

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