Trusting the MapReader

From The Navigator

A year post-Katrina, a group from our church was in New Orleans to help with rebuilding.  On our last day, four of us decided to journey to Houma, Louisiana, to check out another volunteer location.  Pastor Z was driving,  Pauline and Edda were in the back seat, and, of course, I was in the Navigator’s seat .

I don’t recall exactly what road we were on, probably I-10 or I-310.  I do recall that we were all tired from a week of work we weren’t accustomed to, but also fulfilled by the feeling of making a difference in the lives of at least a few people.  It was a busy Saturday morning and we were in unfamiliar territory, but I was armed with my map and some sketchy directions from our Houma connection.

We were staying with traffic on the interstate and approaching a “Y” in the road — a couple of lanes peeling off to the right and a couple more peeling off to the left.  I made the usual comment, something like “move over to the right” or “stay in your lane, but we’ll be exiting off to the right.”  Whatever comment I made, PZ questioned, “Are you sure?  I think we should go left.”  By now I am using the airplane landing gestures I learned from my father in an attempt to guide the van over to the right.  In my most calm Navigator voice I continue to say, “Right lane, right lane, right lane!”  But the steering wheel didn’t budge; he just couldn’t do it.  We came to a screeching halt — in the middle of the emergency area between the lanes curving right and left. 

The Navigator

“Why didn’t you turn right?”

“Because it feels to me like we should turn left.” 

 Then I said, “You didn’t trust me.”

Trust The Navigator

“Trust is a strong word,” PZ said back.  Edda and Pauline just sat in the back seat, quiet witnesses.

Since that day, I’ve thought a lot about trust.  It is a strong word.  When you’re the MapReader, it is important that you are trusted.  The relationship between the Pilot and the Navigator must include trust, or you’ll end up stuck in the middle, not knowing which way to go.