When I got my driver’s license, I would always take the “long way” wherever I had to go. If I had to get bread, drop something at the post office, or head to my job as church custodian. My best friend and I would drive around for hours, spending little to no money but having a great time. Even now, I often take a different way to and from a place to explore Burke County.
The value of getting lost or exploring the rural community is the chance to see your community in a new way. I often simply find new places and new experiences. Even when I know that I am looking for a particular thing, I often turn different and go down different roads before or after finding the thing for which I was looking.
In terms of pedagogy and rural life, it allows for seeing things differently, but this seems the easy answer. Of course finding new things and coming at things from a new perspective is great. However, I think beyond this, it unsettles us and causes us to pay attention. In getting lost on purpose or exploring new places, it gives us a chance to simply wander in the unknown. Sure, our GPS or Smart Phones can get us home, but perhaps that isn’t the point.
A Christian rural pedagogy which involves wandering and exploring is one which points to us seeking out what it means to be in our rural place. To look at it differently means to look for the unfamiliar. It means to see the things that don’t fit and don’t want to fit. It means to learn from those places. From there, discernment can come. However, it appears really important begin looking at the place and space you call home a little differently.
This practice can be put in place by simply driving around. You can do it yourself. You can instruct others to do it. You can take a group, give them notepads, and flip coins for left and right turns to see where you end up. Then you might discuss your findings at the location at which you arrive. Discuss what you saw that was familiar. Discuss what you saw that was different, even simply different from what you’ve always seen. Discuss how you see Kingdom of God being revealed. This can be both in general and for you personally. There is much information to garner from simply driving around and observing with fresh eyes.