Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rushing Through Our Lessons

Today my wife and I accompanied my 11-year old daughter on a school field trip to Washington, D.C. On the way to our nation's capital, we talked about how blessed we are to live so close to such a treasure trove of history and culture, not to mention patriotism and politics. Our daughter had never been to D.C., and the last time we had been there was 13 years ago. For some reason, when you live close to a tourist attraction (as Washington certainly is), you tend to be the last to go and see it. You will, ironically, make a long trip to see something that isn't hardly as much worth seeing as that attraction that is nearest to you.

We arrived at our destination sometime around 11:30 in the morning. Between 11:30 and 3:45, we visited the Museum of American History, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Museum of Natural History. Along the way, we had the distinctive Washingtonian experiences of eating an overpriced hot dog from a street vendor and riding the Metro.

Let me tell you, four hours and fifteen minutes is NOT enough time to take in all there is to see in our nation's capital. It isn't even enough time to really get one museum completely seen and appreciated, much less the monuments and other things we saw. It got me thinking--why is it that we like to rush through our lessons? Do we really think we can skip to the end and still learn everything we're supposed to learn?

I remember doing this in school. I'd read the highlighted text that the kid who used the book before me had marked, rather than the entire reading assignment.

I remember doing this with my piano lessons when I was my daughter's age. I play by ear, so whenever I had trouble reading the music, I'd just ask my piano teacher to play it for me. "Aah, I've got it," I would say, then play it as if I'd learned it.

So, given my greatly advanced years since the piano lesson days, I have enough distance and perspective to say that that was the wrong way to learn. You can't rush through your lessons, pretend that you learned something, and feel good about yourself for having take the lesson. It doesn't do any good. Not in school. Not in piano. Not on field trips.

So we made a commitment to take an annual day-trip to Washington. There's really no reason why we haven't done it before, except for laziness. We live so close--why not enjoy our nation's history? And if we go every year, there will be no rush to get everything seen in one quick trip. We'll be able to take our time with the things we do see. We'll enjoy them more, and learn more along the way.

Come to think of it, this is a good way to approach spiritual development, and life in general. Don't rush through the lessons life gives you. Savor the things God is showing you. If you plow through too quickly, you'll miss something important. You have your whole life to grow, so what's the rush? Take your time, so you can see those things you're missing.

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