Where am I?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

I Cor 13:11

If you walk straight out the door away from your home with a three year old, go a few yards and ask her which direction home is. She’ll point behind her. If you take a left at the first intersection and repeat the question, she’ll point behind her. Turn left again, ask for a third time, and she’ll point behind again. Home is always behind because that’s where it was when she last saw it – everything in the world is understood as oriented around her. Once she adds a couple of birthdays, she’ll know that the house doesn’t move just because she changed direction. If you ask her where the house is after turning left, she’ll give you an odd look and point left. The stage where the world orients itself around her has been left behind.

What about the world beyond a particular street, town, neighborhood, hemisphere? If you asked a passing adult to draw the world, would he or she put home territory in the center? Most likely; it’s why maps of the world have different continents in the center, depending upon its user’s location. The assumption is that the center of the world is wherever he or she happens to be – or happens to be from.

I wonder, though. If a stranger on the street asked me to draw a map of the world, would I put away childish reasoning long enough to ask about the person I’d be drawing it for. After all, the world doesn’t rotate around me any more than my home follows me down the street…

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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