strange maps

I seem to have this thing for maps recently. I’ve noticed over the last few years that there’s almost always an underlying theme that shapes my thinking: water was it for a while; maps, or a sense of ‘this place’ seems to be it now. My head is overflowing with ideas about knowing where we are, the landscape we live in, the ground we walk on…

Part of the reason is that I saw some brilliant exhibitions while I was in the UK – the Richard Long exhibition, for example, which was all about knowing where we are and seeing the world we walk through… Part of it is also coming back from the UK and finding myself unexpectedly living somewhere new.

I’m living at the moment in fitzroy, which is an inner-city suburb in melbourne. the city buildings are almost close enough to touch from my balcony. It’s a gorgeous part of town – great architecture and street art, interesting galleries and bookshops, beautiful gardens, every possible permutation of cafe, wine bar, restaurant and pub… It’s five minutes walk from pretty much everywhere you’d ever want to go, and we’ve been taking advantage of that at every opportunity.

Fitzroy’s temporary – my apartment is still being repaired, post flood. Probably three or four times a day I get the question ‘you must be looking forward to going home’. I always fumble with the answer. Truth is, I love where I am at the moment. And the other truth is, i’ve realised I have no idea what home is…

My apartment, the one that was flooded, was the first place I’ve ever lived in which belonged to me. I grew up living in other people’s houses – rental properties, church properties. We moved every few years, into another ‘somebody else’s house’. I was 37 before I lived somewhere that I had freedom to hang a picture where I wanted, or to paint a wall red – but I have no idea what to do with that freedom. I used the old picture hooks, and even now that I’m repainting we’re going with the same colour scheme that I moved into. I think that moving often, and never living in our own house has been great on one level – it’s made it much easier to survive a flood. The flip side is that I never quite learnt the skill of living like there might be a piece of the world I’m allowed to make mine. And I think there are a lot of people like me…

I’ve always resonated most strongly with those who have found home isn’t where or what they thought it would be. I think that’s why I spend my life doing this kind of work, and it certainly describes the kind of people who most easily make their way into the things that we do. I was thinking about it all today, as I found a new way to walk into work. I wonder if it comes back to how we use maps. I don’t like a map that’s given to me to tell me where I am; I like making maps of where we might go… i don’t want a map of where I live; I want a map of how people find their life living here…

All of that is a long story to point to this website. i really love that there are so many ways of looking at the world.


  1. Cheryl, I meant to tell you your words in the post – whatever recently resonated deep within me and my experience at present, shaping a new community of faith from scratch … and on my blog I have put some words that spring off yours, in conversation, in response, in solidarity of experience ..?? ;o) anyway, they’re there, and they’re about maps, too, or the absence thereof

  2. Mavis

    Enjoyed your post very much Cheryl – and the animal maps are so cool!

  3. ben

    I love maps! I make them all the time… I make them in the desert in sand, and i make them in my notebooks during meetings… I sometimes wonder what would happen if we reversed the idea of the map coming after the fact… like what if the cities are maps of something… eg. if we saw roads as being built to carry our ideas from place to place?… and what if skyscrapers are just big cupboards that were built to store information…?

    I sometimes do my head in thinking about people as streams of information (cellular, organic, narrative, relational), and wonder how you would map those streams of information as they bump into each other, generate new ideas and new people, and continue on…

    No wonder i get lost all the time.

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