Learning along the way…

Written by on November 29, 2010

We can live so unreflectively nowadays, always hoping to “get by” with what we already know. Yet if life experience teaches us anything along the way, it is that we still have so much more to learn if we are to flourish as people. We will not be able to “get by” without a good bit more learning. In this sense, life is always preparation for more life. I can recall as a young adult wrestling with the first major disappointment of my life… …all the while growing more and more resentful that my parents and grandparents, my teachers and pastors, did not adequately prepare me for the pain and sadness and confusion I was experiencing. In retrospect now I realize that I held a notion of maturity and growing up which was fundamentally flawed. I thought I was old enough (in my mid-twenties at the time) that all the major life preparation should have been done already. I somehow wrongly understood adulthood as simply the time to apply what I had already learned. I didn’t realize until I was well on the other side of that chapter of disillusionment and disappointment that I wasn’t going to be able to “get by” with what I already knew. I would need a whole lot more preparation if I was too grow up and flourish along the way. Somewhere near the tail end of that life chapter I stumbled upon Madeleine L’Engle’s collection of poems entitled The Weather of the Heart.  Ever since then her words have provided a framework of story or narrative for making sense of the different twists and turns I encounter. Whenever I begin to feel that my story is too small or that my story doesn’t make sense I recall these words of L’Engle and recognize that I got a good bit more learning to do… 

Act III, Scene ii Someone has altered the script. My lines have been changed. The other actors are shifting roles. They don’t come on when they’re expected to, and they don’t say the lines I’ve written and I’m being upstaged. I thought I was writing this play with a rather nice role for myself, small, but juicy and some excellent lines. But nobody gives me my cues and the scenery has been replaced. I don’t recognize the new sets. This isn’t the script I was writing. I don’t understand this plot at all.   To grow up is to find the small part you are playing in this extraordinary drama written by somebody else.   Madeleine L’Engle, The Weather of the Heart, 1978 

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