So, I was thinking about this Elul Journey idea again, and I thought to myself – a good journey requires a good map. I talked about Elul yesterday, and talking is good, but kids prefer action. Doing something is more fun than just yammering about it. So, I thought about how I would make an Elul map. This (as many other things) led me to thinking about books – books that had maps that one could use for an Elul Journey. I could come up with 3. I know that there’s a movie around that might have a similar concept, but work has interfered with my ability to see it, so I’m going to have to go with what I know.
One of the books was a strange little novel whose name escapes me, where a sad, dull little boy found that his mind map had only two places – home and school. Only after home very spooky adventures was he able to add imaginary places that were kind of awesome and interesting. Another is a very old-fashioned Christian book called Pilgrim’s Progress, in which a man goes through places like the Slough of Despond and fights the Anger giant Appolyon. One of my favourite books which contains this idea is The Phantom Tollbooth, in which the young man encounters the Mountains of Ignorance, which have all sorts of nasty creatures that try to keep him away from the wonderful twin sisters of Rhyme and Reason.
What would my Elul map look like? Well, I would like to put the mountain of Achievement front and center, but there, right in the middle, I can see the awful black Back Slide, which I take far too often, and which can undo months of progress in a single weekend. It drops right down to the Time Wasteland where the cities of Facebook and Twitter are the only things that flourish, and even Video Games, a set of towns which I keep closing down, occasionally show up. Right there, near that Wasteland is the Down Ditch, a nasty place into which I keep slipping and which I use as an excuse to return to the Wasteland. The Anxiety Dunes are nearby, and I can spend forever running from one dune to another, not quite knowing where I am. There is a horrible hole in my map, deeper than the Grand Canyon – The Money Pit is a truly scary place, and one that has a black hole like power to drag me into the Down Ditch no matter where I am.
On the border of Time Wasteland and Charity County is the town of Causes. I like volunteering for and participating in causes (even if it’s only signing the occasional online petition) but they do take up time I don’t always have. I would prefer to spend more time focusing on my twin cities of Tutor and Teacher, which have been expanding lately in interesting new directions. I love the district of Reading that my Tutor town just developed, and I work hard to help the newcomers from foreign lands get comfortable in that town. In the middle of Charity County is the town of Foster. Sadly, it looks much like a ghost town – I really have to write my Foster Parent Plan child more often.
The city of Blog is not in the Wasteland – near, but more in my Spiritual Growth Forest, which I’m fairly proud of. It is still only a small grove, but it is growing nicely. Trees are springing up all over! Cutting through my whole land is Friendship Road, with the friends that have helped me survive this year and make it a good one. However, some of the towns that border it do look neglected, a bit. There is some repair work for me to do here in the coming year.
I have to work on the many Gossip Goblins cavorting their nasty little way through my Spiritual Growth Forest. They are joined by Rude Trolls, walking around with clubs and smashing buildings along Friendship Road. As for the Dark Elves of Sarcasm, well, I work hard on bringing them into the light and helping them be good cheerful elves full of humour but without malice. I don’t always succeed.
It’s a good map. Interesting, with places of growth and challenge, places where I need to repair and areas I can be proud of. It’s one that I can use to lead me through Elul. I just need to start moving – need to act on what I made. How about you?What’s your Elul map look like? (If you want, you can publish an Elul map – picture or words – on my blog. Just add it as a comment or send it to me in whatever form you want to reach me. I am also happy to admire and comment on your map in private if you would like to share.)