Graduation Exercises and Space Shuttles!
Week of May 14, 2010
Life has been incredibly busy as of late. It is the end of the school year and I have two graduations taking place in my household. I have one young ‘en graduating from college and the another graduating from high school. Now that doesn’t mean that they are done with school. Not even close. The next stop for the oldest is grad school and the youngest college. This is one of those seasons of life where they are moving from one educational arena into another. I am sitting in ceremonies waiting for the brief few moments when my child walks across the stage and is recognized for having completed their course of studies.
In some ways it makes me feel old but it also fills me with a sense of wonder and awe. Because as I wrote above they are not done. This is merely a benchmark, a transition, the passing through one learning environment into another. Sitting in the UCF Arena during graduation I was pondering how much I knew when I graduated and how much I have learned since then.
The word “education” means “to draw out.”
Maybe we’ve got it backwards? If you observed what happens in most classrooms in most schools you’d be tempted to think that education is trying to cram as much information into the cranium as possible. I can remember the days when the stress level was in the red zone because I just couldn’t remember all that I needed to remember for a test.
I’m not suggesting that we don’t need information. But education at its best draws us into discovery. Unfortunately, that happens too infrequently in classrooms. I think Plato was right: “Do not train youths to learn by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
Here’s a thought: graduating from college is like exiting the Garden of Eden. The learning process doesn’t stop. It starts. That’s why it’s called commencement. Our formal education is preparation for the informal education that begins the day we walk the line and receive our degree.
Genesis 1:28 says, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Let me connect a few dots for you. The word “rule” in the NIV or “dominion” in the KJV literally means “to draw out.” (Didn’t we just use that definition a few paragraphs earlier?) God wanted Adam and Eve to educate themselves about everything He had made. He was drawing them out. He was inviting them to explore and discover.
Can you imagine seeing the world for the very first time as the very first human beings?
As I am typing this I am waiting for the space shuttle Atlantis to take off for the very last time. Growing up in Florida I am fascinated with the space program. I know in a world of tight budgets and bad economy there are many that think space exploration is waste of money. I believe spiritually exploration and discovery is the call of God to humanity. Asking questions, finding answers, and striving to test the limits and keep striving forward are all things that I see rolled into living the God-breathed life.
Can you imagine studying about an artist like Pablo Picasso without looking at his paintings? Can you imagine studying about a composer like Ludwig Von Beethoven without listening to his music? Can you imagine studying about an author like Shakespeare without reading what he wrote?
It seems absurd doesn’t it? It’s about as absurd as studying about the Creator without studying creation. It’s about as absurd as studying theology without studying neurology or astronomy or ornithology.
Just like an artist who wants others to enjoy his art; just like a composer who wants others to enjoy his music; just like an author who wants others to enjoy his books; God wants us to enjoy His creation. He wants us to explore it and study it and name it and admire it. Sometimes in my quiet times I have looked at pictures that were taken by the Hubble Telescope and as I looked at the vastness and brilliance of space I have been in quiet awe of the Creator!
What I’m trying to say is this: exploration honors God. The astronomer who charts the stars; the geneticist who maps the human genome; the researcher who seeks a cure for Parkinson’s disease; the oceanographer who explores the barrier reef; the ornithologist who studies and preserves rare bird species; the physicist who tries to catch quarks; the chemist who charts molecular structures; and the theologian who studies God have one thing in common. All of them are explorers. They are fulfilling humankind’s original job description.
Commencement ceremonies are exactly that…they are time to commence (begin, start, initiate) doing what you are supposed to be doing next. In other words keep exploring!
The Sky is the Limit!
Add your thoughts to these thoughts.
e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org