Well, I’ll tell you what’s happened over the last two weeks. First, I’ve finished off my insanely long Doctor Who series. Second, I had to have my OS reinstalled and I’m still trying to put everything back into place. Third, I felt a bit ill for a couple days. Fourth, and most interesting, I had discovered though someone’s Facebook invitation that Steven James was speaking in San Antonio and attended that seminar over the weekend.
I’m on record saying God laughs, most of the time, and regularly at my expense. He has his own way of speaking to each of us, and, well, more often than not he uses images and storytelling to make his point with me. But often we don’t really notice when he’s teaching us until he informs us of the test results. Because, you know, he is that good.
Well, he certainly had a thing or two say to me, more than I can really reduce down to a blog post: things on presumption and pride, selfishness and forgiveness, divine appointment and humility. All of it, though really bundled into maintaining a teachable spirit.
For instance, two weeks ago, I made some comments about violence in Doctor Who. In general, my assumption has been that our culture has become so saturated in it that we’re desensitized to it. However, at the seminar, Mr. James made the comment that “We live in a culture of muted violence.” For example, a newscast might spend twenty seconds on a flood that resulted in thousands of people dead, wounded, and/or homeless, but immediately switch over and spend fifteen minutes on sports or celebrity gossip. He went on to say that “the reason tragedies don’t shatter us is because our hearts our frozen.” If “tragedy is a matter of proximity,” then our job is to bring that tragedy as close to the reader’s face as possible, to shatter the ice, as it were.
It was a new way to look at it, at least for me.
I had a history teacher in high school who was always studying his field. One of us asked him about that one day, and he said, “I’ll tell you what my professor told me: ‘I’d rather you learn from a flowing stream than a stagnant pond.'”
For me, being a Christian as long as I have leaves me forever on the edge of a heart that says, “You can’t teach me anything from this book that I don’t know. I know everything there is to glean from Scriptures.” And I’m learning the more comfortable I get in a particular field: writing, tutoring, substitute teaching, editing…The danger is to think I’ve learned it all and haven’t anything else to learn from anyone else, for my heart to turn to stone. At that point, I’m useless to everyone. I’m not listening to God, so he can’t teach what I won’t learn. And I’m no use to anyone else because even if I had something to say, who’s going to listen?
One thing (among many) I’ve learned by people watching is that even writers with dozens of books under their belt and a steady, sustainable business are always learning, always honing, always improving. The process is alive, in constant motion, churning, twisting, rising, falling, so that everything in and around it feels its presence.
We’re always learning. My favorites are the books written for the sheer challenge, for the success of something new, untested, untried. If they fail, they fail. But when they succeed, they’re awe-inspiring.
So, time for something new, at least from me.
What are you reading?
What’s inspired, influenced, or altered your perspective?
What are you learning?
Moreover, who’s your teacher?
Enjoy the day.