Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here be Dragons?

The phrase 'Here be Dragons' has crept into popular culture, the idea that early map makers would mark the unexplored portions of their maps with that phrase and an image of the mythical beast. The cartographers didn't want to leave sections of the map blank, and if no one had been there, it stood to reason that the area must be dangerous and terrifying and contain wild beasts.

The number of historical maps that contain the phrase 'Here be Dragons' in English? Zero. The number of historical maps that contain that phrase in Latin? Just one, the Lenox Globe.

A part of me was very sad when I discovered this through a chance google search for this blog post. The phrase seemed an affirmation of the belief that says the unknown is scary and dangerous, you are so much better off staying to the familiar, the well-worn path. Strange monsters and savage ideas are waiting for the person who ventures into the unknown, it's better not to risk it.

At the center of old maps was Jerusalem, the Holy City, Mount Zion. The Presence of God, located in the familiar, the comfortable, the known. To step away from the center was to step away from the Divine, to leave the presence of God. I've written about this before.

Jesus said 'if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.' (Matt 17:20)

When we have learned to identify 'Mount Zion' in our lives, we have the ability to move the mountain out to the edges, the rough places, the unknown. 'Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered'. Our Mount Zion is with us when we journey through the valley of the shadow of death.

When I imagine the landscape of my life, there are some areas that have definite dragons, places where I am scared to wander, but I can set my face to walk to those places when I am tethered at the center, when I 'carry' Mount Zion with me. There are Broken Relationships that need tending, Beliefs that need questioning and Attitudes that need confronting.

When you take a walk through the landscape of your life, what are the places you are avoiding? How can you carry Christ into those areas?

Points for making it to the end of this post, and bonus points if you recognized the totally gratuitous movie quote.


Katy said...

I made it to the end of the post.... and I think the movie reference is Labyrinth, though I'm not sure.

I really like the imagery you used in this post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Pete the Brit said...

You are correct Katy, it is from Labyrinth :)