The Adventures of a Dyslexic Map Reader
Everything in this next story is true—metaphorically.
One day, I summited a mountain. While taking in the stunning view, I discovered a systematic friend had also just arrived and was enjoying the same vista. We embraced and then, filled with wonder, reveled in our shared awe of the landscape—it was revelation.
As we pointed out the beauty, we experienced a shared sense of eternal life. Then, mesmerized by our perspective, we each told our story—the highs, lows, wonder, confusion, epiphanies, and all the ways we found ourselves here, now. In every story, we referenced an everyday resource, a shared treasure. The Map.
We both loved The Map and gave it great authority over our journeys. I was amazed as I listened to my friend give his insights into The Map. He’d gone to Map School and had studied for many years to become an expert Map-reader. I learned much from him and still have much to learn.
But whenever I spoke of The Map, he became distracted and uncomfortable. I’d seen it before with other Map experts. I thought about telling him of my Map School days but knew from experience that such a conversation would likely become hyper-Map-focused, and I’d eventually lose interest.
You see, with regard to Map reading, I have a learning disability. Even on my best day, I will never be more than a novice Map-reader. When I was young and insecure, I tried to hide my relational disability from my systematic friends, but I’m growing ever surer in love.
I’m also older and have learned that when connecting with my systematic friends, it’s best to get my learning disability out in the open quickly.
“I’m a dyslexic map reader,” I told him.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“I tend to read The Map backwards,” I responded.
“What does that mean?” He queried with growing discomfort.
“Well, I can’t truly comprehend it until after I’ve taken the journey and seen the view,” I answered, pointing at the view.
“But that’s the wrong way to read The Map,” he said, strangely ignoring the view.
“So I’ve been told,” I responded, laughing, but he didn’t think it was funny.
Concerned, he asked, “How did you even get here then?”—emphasizing “here” as if he ran security at Highmark Stadium and had just found me in the luxury suites of a Bills game without the proper ticket—as if I didn’t belong “here.”
I smiled. “Same way as you, I imagine. By the grace of God.”
My answer conflicted with what he’d been taught at Map School and would have received a failing grade. I know this because I, too, went to Map School. It’s where my dyslexia first showed up—and also where I first discovered I was a half-decent storyteller.
His demeanor changed. Where once we’d shared wonder, now he was full of educated doubt, informed concern, and systematic dissatisfaction. Then, he did something odd. He turned his back on the view, the revelation, picked up his Map, thrust it out, and insisted, “Show me the route you took.”
I glanced at The Map, pointed to the Emmaus Road I’d taken, and saw him shake his head. “That’s a slippery slope.”
I laughed again, “No, my friend, the footing is sure.”
Then I pointed to the view—the revelation in which I was still reveling, but for my systematic friend, everything had become secondary to the Map.
“I’m telling you; you’re reading the Map wrong!”
I shrugged, “Maybe, but good Lord, check out this vista!”
This article is excerpted from my book, Leaving and Finding Jesus