The Kingdom of Geo (caching)

A few months ago a friend of mine mentioned Geocaching to me.  And I confess I tried to block it out of mind because it sounded enticing enough that I knew if I went down that road I’d probably become hooked and it might become an obsession.  I didn’t succeed and a couple of hours after reading this article I coughed up the $12.99 to download the iPhone application and tentatively entered the Geocaching sub-culture.

More than most things, Geocaching is very much like entering a parallel universe.  To set the scene I am going to do a bit of cut and paste from Wikipedia, save re-inventing the descriptive wheel.

Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook.

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1.2 million active geocaches published on various websites devoted to the activity.

For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site (see list of some sites below). Other geocachers obtain the coordinates from that listing site and seek out the cache using their GPS handheld receivers. The finding geocachers record their exploits in the logbook and online. Geocachers are free to take objects (except the logbook, pencil, or stamp) from the cache in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value.

For several years I have been passing by the Geocache world in the course of my daily routine, completely oblivious to its existence, despite its presence all around me.   Within minutes of being handed the keys to the Geocache world, courtesy of the Geocache website, the veil was lifted.


Some of the Geocaches stored in and around Mapleton

Let’s zero in on Mapleton.  Given I walk a circutious 2.5km route to work (and back again) it became clear that over the last 12 months I’ve regularly passed Geocaches stashed around the town.  In Geocache speak this made me a “muggle” (a common person, esp. one who is ignorant or has no skills). 

However, now that the veil was lifted I was aware of the hidden treasures of another sub-culture, another world even, the secret society of the Geocachers, and could join in on the hunt (albeit surreptitiously as you don’t want muggles stumbling across the cache without context).

So far my hunting has been confined to one cache that I have most regularly passed by.  It took a couple of goes, the first one aborted because of too much muggle activity and the second one yielded the cache after 5 minutes of searching.  (Given Anne has to do a “girl’s look” every time I lose my wallet I suspect I’ll need to enlist the services of the whole family to be successful at this caper).

But it’s experience enough to already convince me that Geocaching could be a perfect reminder of the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God in this present evil age.

Today In my office another good friend and I were discussing the various English translations of Mark 1:14-15.  It’s a little perturbing that the major translations fall into two broad camps for the tense they give to their interpretation of Jesus’ words as he storms into public ministry.


Geocaches in Dubbo. A place I lived for 8 years oblivious to their existence.

Some will have it as “The Kingdom of God is near” (eg New Living translation), which is significantly different to “The time has come at last – the Kingdom of God has arrived” (JB Phillips) or “Time’s up, God’s Kingdom is here” (The Message).  Future tense versus Present tense – it makes a profound difference to one’s interpretation of Jesus’ words and intent.

Given the context of some of the parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) and some of his recorded utterances there’s a strong case to be made that He proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is indeed present right here, right now, in the midst of this present evil age.

While there will be a full realisation of the fullness of the Kingdom to come, there is also a sense that in the life and death of Jesus there was an in-breaking of the Kingdom in His example and sacrifice which means Kingdom living and all its possibilities is attainable and something to strive for this side of heaven. After all, Jesus did it and called us to do likewise.

Though I grew up in the bosom of the church (I was a pastor’s kid!) this remarkable realisation didn’t truly dawn on me until I was twenty-three.  It was a little bit like being handed the codes to the Geocache website and finding a veil lifted and a whole new world of context and possibilities opened up. The stakes are much higher though.

All around us are hints of the Kingdom of God, and possibilities to see its fulfillment in the present.  There are gems of knowledge hanging on our observation, there are truths that require dogged research to discover them.  There are people to serve, populations to enlighten, God in all we see and do.

Yet in the busyness of life (or perhaps in the mainstream evangelical pursuit of the Kingdom to come) we’re often oblivious to them, passing them by as casually as I used to pass Geocaches before my eyes were opened. 


5 Responses to The Kingdom of Geo (caching)

  1. Stan says:

    I can relate to the ‘veil has lifted’ revelation – realising that there is this hidden layer to the world around me. I still haven’t taken the plunge and started, mainly cos my kids look at me with panic written across their faces when I suggest “hey kids lets go find some geocaches this morning!”

    • mzilikazi says:

      Thanks for stopping by to comment on my demeaning and embarrassing blog Stan. 😉 I’ve conspired to take the entire Mapleton Outdoor Education team Geocaching this Friday – as a training and brain-storming exercise of course. I expect Geocaching will be incorporated into the camp experience here very soon.

  2. MUM SAYS says:

    It sounds amazing and very enlightening, but his old brain can’t quite grasp what Geocaching is!!!! Very interesting though…. Will pass it on the Dad..the computer wizz!

  3. Pingback: Cache on dudes… « Co-mission

  4. Pingback: Tapping Into A Hidden Network | Crossover Online

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