A Heaven To Shun

a heaven to shun

‘The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action: and till action, lust
Is perjur’d*, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof,— and prov’d, a very woe;
Before, a joy propos’d; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Sonnet 129 –William Shakespeare

* (of evidence) involving wilfully told untruths.

Canaries in the Coal Mine of the 21st Century

remembering

‘We have all read in scientific books and indeed in all romances, the story of a man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is.
Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are.’*
There’s something dark happening in a society where the ones Jesus said—most emphatically—are citizens of heaven, are screaming at us. Maybe these children who are behaving so dysfunctionally know something we don’t? Perhaps they don’t want to be well adjusted members of a dysfunctional society that’s determined to bend our humanity out of shape.
Could it be true that we have forgotten what we are and the children are behaving so ‘badly’ because they still remember what we are and are violently opposed to our blind walking towards an abyss? Are they the canaries in the coal mine of the 21st Century?

‘Yet You have said, “I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:12)

* From the reading for August 13 in A Year With GK Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte, editor

The Joy of Learning

Joy

Curiosity is defined as ‘a strong desire to know or learn something’. It also has something to do with feelings of being forgotten, or not noticed. Hence the kitten, stalking a mysterious noise in the garden, forgets itself as it becomes engrossed in the business of discovery. This little animal’s adventure is a kind of enticement, which is about more than just finding out a fact, it’s a learning experience, which includes feelings of discovery, of playfulness and of surprise.

The one who sets out to teach and already thinks they know what the metaphorical kitten is stalking in the garden, must respect the playful curiosity bubbling in that young mind, must learn to co-operate with a universe that is a teeming jungle of unknowns and must understand that their teaching relationship with a student may all hinge on a single moment where the ‘teacher’ demonstrates restraint and respect for this music of playful curiosity. That respect not just being about the art of teaching but about being a teacher who is still ready for a surprise—still learning—who remembers that this one they are instructing is not just a student, they are a dream (or possibly broken dream) that came from the heart of a mother and a father out there somewhere, and even from the very heart of God.

With this understanding in place, plus a little skill and experience, it’s highly likely that the learning experience will be characterised by the curiosity, participation, commitment and ambition necessary to inspire real growth in the learner. The ‘learner’ normally being thought of as the student but it’s just as likely to be the so called ‘teacher’ in any given moment—if only the teacher will allow it.

Curiosity + participation + commitment + ambition = a recipe for growth