Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Full Circle of Learning

“Learning” is a word that, at 57 years old, I relish and embrace. As a matter of fact, the older I get the more I have an expansive curiosity about the world around me and the desire to learn about it.  My learning is sometimes random and sometimes intentional, sometimes it leads to more and more interest and then other times I just scratch the surface and move on. I am learning to embrace this rhythm in my life and, the more I accept it, the more lighthearted and playful is my soul.

What I truly love is when my learning comes full circle! For example, I remember the first time I bought a house and inherited all these plants and a garden. I frankly couldn’t tell or know if it was a weed or a flower. As a child I was too busy riding a bike, swimming or playing softball in the summer to learn about plants or a garden. Except I knew I loved fresh green beans from the garden and that was just taken for granted. Now the rhythm of curious learning beset me and my master-teacher was my best friend who taught me and continues to teach me about plants, gardens, and the art of canning. And on my curvy path of learning I’ve had success and, of course, failure but I learned through both methods! The gift my friend gave me was the love of gardening.

This year I have had the opportunity to share my love of gardening with some neighbors who bought their first house. As we journeyed together to figure out what was a plant and weed, why deadheading was important, and which plants needed and wanted shade I began to see the love of learning to garden being seeded in my neighbor and my soul sang and skipped with joy. I also knew a paced learning and tending to the garden would cultivate motivation rather than overwhelming her with a “learn it all now” approach. I understood this from the Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 64: 13, where we are advised wanted to avoid extremes, in case, by rubbing too hard to remove the rust, we may break the vessel.  When we were working in the garden one evening my neighbor asked me, “How do you know all this stuff?”  I replied, “The same way you are learning, from a friend who helped when I acquired my first home.” And then I added, “Someday you will opportunity to teach someone else.”  “Really?”  And I replied wholeheartedly, “Yes!”  

This is the joy of coming full circle in learning, but more importantly the call of the Gospel for each of us – go and make disciples, mentor, teach, and pass the baton of the gift of your knowledge to the next generation. St. Benedict intuitively understood the Gospel and discipleship as important parts of living the Rule. He called his community a” school of the Lord’s service”. He wants us to learn from one another. He also refers to his community as a workshop where we use the tool of good works. 

I encourage all of us to look, listen and share generously and graciously the gifts and knowledge bestowed on us by the Spirit so that we may experience the joy of giving and the beauty of empowering – soul gardening. 

 Trish Dick, OSB

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