Lessons from a Life-Long Learner

Each new generation is reared by its predecessor; the latter must therefore improve in order to improve its successor. The movement is circular. – Émile Durkheim

In any role I hold, I regularly think of my predecessors. What they have done. Their goals and aspirations. The changes they tried to make. How they’ve tried. What wouldn’t change.  What was too much?

It’s a cycle. Their predecessor, and those before them… all tried to change something. At the heart of it — man. We tried to change man. To make humans care for more than him/herself.

For the world: In our different ways, we’ve tried — working harder, more efficiently, impacting more, less loss, more gain. But I don’t know where we’re trying to go, really. We’re getting there faster, more efficiently, reaching more people. But where are we going? What is all of this for?

And that’s the problem of this Life-Long Learner. I’m not better than those before me. How can I, then, help those after me? I’m constantly trying to improve and be better. Your eyes are always on the horizon — there’s something else, there’s more. You’re not satisfied with ‘this.’ And most of the time, you wish everyone else was trying to get there, too. Be better. Be more. Do more. But what is the goal? What are we trying to do?

Will we continue until we realize we’ve gone too far? Or simply get lost in our pursuits.

There is no end to learning. And ‘improvement’ (as defined by ‘an increase in knowledge’) does not end, either. But what ends is life.

Our time will end. And what will all of this bring? We can not bring our education to the grave. Neither can we our success.

 

Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. – Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

Our attempts at improving the lives of others in all the corners of the earth may last as long as the earth does. And this is a valiant aspiration.

But could I urge us to go one step farther?
What is beyond this life? How do we impact life after this life?

On our own, it is too much. It is tiring. We will give up.
But we weren’t asked to do this on our own…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30

Well, this life-long learner is still learning. But learning to rest. To find rest. Not in exotic locations or comforts, but to take my eyes of these lofty goals and self-imposed standards. To keep walking. And to learn from – to follow in the steps of – the only predecessor who walked perfectly.

And to realize this – My successors will not be following in my foot steps (which falter and waver), but His perfect and steady steps. And in that way, we will reach our goal. Our purpose. His.

SDg

 

A heart set on daily pilgrimage

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5

Those who have the new Jerusalem in their eye must have the ways that lead to it in their heart, must mind them, their eyes must look straight forward in them, must ponder the paths of them, must keep close to them, and be afraid of turning aside to the right hand or to the left. If we make God’s promise our strength, we must make God’s word our rule, and walk by it. – M. Henry

Do not wait for some ideal situation, some exotic difficulty, some far-away emergency; but rise to meet the actual conditions which the Providence of God has placed around you today. Your crown of glory lies embedded in the very heart of these things—those hardships and trials that are pressing you this very hour, week and month of your life. The hardest things are not those that the world knows of. Down in your secret soul unseen and unknown by any but Jesus, there is a little trial that you would not dare to mention that is harder for you to bear than martyrdom.” – L.B. Cowman

But how do we make goodness attractive?

sail

Greatest fear: To have lived splashing on shallow shores, not hearing the call to cast further into the deep.
Greatest risk: Yet to be taken.

But to see my vocation as a venue for reaching and guiding others back, or to encourage onward.
And to endure the trials with perseverance that prepare me for this.

To have a partner not for company alone, but with a vision for the same.
To desire more, not for ourselves or our future. Not for comfort, but for service.

Not for recognition (not in this life).
For the inner character and the outer character to be as one.

Not to be afraid of loss or hardship.
To see that it is more than the eye can see.

To have an unwavering stand for the Truth, but to share it with love.
To trust. To love. To wait. To go.

To see this is not for us alone, but for so much more.
We are short threads in the grand tapestry.
And fit in as our Creator wills (silly as this is, I hope, if our threads cross, we add more color and meaning than we did alone).

To seek to understand, then to live like so.
(And remember Matthew 6:33)
“…And all these things shall be added unto you.”

(So to the ‘Why not still?’  ‘Perhaps it’s still teaching me to seek as I should.’)

[We don’t. He does. And as He wills, we will.]

Nature: Fragility + Resilience

Natura

So long as flowers continue to grow out of concrete (regardless of man’s effort or attention);
So long as seed heads burst and dance in full abundance after the seemingly tragic first death of the dandelion flower;
So long as the busy bumble bee fly despite the rules of aerodynamics (solved yet?);
So long as buds emerge to reclaim the earth after a cold, silent winter;
So long as the spider keeps reweaving her fragile web when the cruel and relentless rain is done;
So long as morning comes after the darkest of nights…

So long as these things are so, I will stand in awe of Creation, and believe that life is not based solely on the ‘now’:
It is a continuous lesson – these are but temporary symbols.

The unlikely is just around the corner.
And the seemingly impossible is within reach.

The timing is God’s.
The impossible (by our definition) is not.

The answer is faith – in His everlasting love.

 SDg.

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