X is for . . .

X MARKS THE SPOT

An X appears on a map to tell you where you want to go. Mayhaps an olde pirate map indicates a buried treasure’s location with an “X.” Off you sail, in search of gold at the end of a journey.

Or an X appears on a map to let you know where you are. You arrive at a sprawling shopping mall and search a map display to find your goal . . . say the jewelry store with a great sale on the perfect gift for your spouse. X declares your location and gives you a sense of how to get to the south end of the second level near the food court. Off you go, knowing where you started your first steps.

Don’t we wish that an X would clearly mark a spot of where we are in our faith? Or, better still, where God may desire us to head for? If only I could reach X, things would be better. When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief became popular in the 1970s, I recall teaching classes based on her groundbreaking work. Many easily understood and appreciated her research about denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But I frequently cautioned people that there was no logical, predictable passage from one “stage” to another. Persons wanted to know exactly where they were going or where they had come from. As valid as Kübler-Ross’ stages are 40+ years after the publication of DEATH AND DYING, none of them ever becomes an X Marks The Spot.

Putting an X on a map is easy. But an X doesn’t work well in the topography of the soul.

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