Roadmaps and Beyond

Once upon a time my family and I set out to drive to my parents’ house. That sounds simple, doesn’t it? It was made a bit less simple than it might have been, however, by virtue of the fact that Grandma and Grandad lived at that time in the extreme south west of France. It was necessary to break the journey overnight and we made a reservation at the Novotel in Rouen.

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All went very smoothly until we arrived in Rouen and tried to find the hotel. It would be only a very small exaggeration to say that we drove on every road in Rouen except the one on which the hotel was located.

These days, satellite navigation and smart phones make this scenario less likely, but back then the problem arose as a result of using a French road atlas and having nothing more to go on than the postal address. You discover, in situations like this, that familiar mapping conventions do not always apply. You also find out that the postal address of a hotel is not necessarily in the same place as the hotel itself!

I am reminded of this experience this week becase of all the talk of roadmaps. A one way ticket to freedom has been offered, a way out of Covid restrictions, coupled with a stern warning not to run. Like a classful of children at the end of the school day, there will be some who will rush to get out first, others who will hang back until they’re sure the path is clear, and still others who will semi-consciously muddle along with the crowd.

In all the discussion of dates and data, of whether things are going too slowly or too fast, it’s easy to forget that this roadmap leads us to somewhere we’ve never been before. The post-Covid world will not be as it was. We can’t tell exactly what it will be like, and the roadmap will be no use once we’re there.

If we’re not to spend hours driving around Rouen in the middle of the night with two small children in the back of the car (to stretch the metaphor) we will need something more than a map. We will need wisdom, and humility, a willingness to learn and a determination to do better. We will need, in other words, God’s help.

May God bless you all,