I’m in my element—back in school again! I do love to learn. On my Strengthfinders profile, “learner” is one of my top five characteristics. I just cannot get enough!
Creighton University offers a Masters in Christian Spirituality in the summer. You can attend it in one- or two-month increments. I’m here for the month of June. This is day four of classes and thus far, it is wonderful. It’s quite rigorous—especially in terms of reading, but the material is interesting and life giving. The community is fantastic as well—others who are on this journey of learning to seek a deeper relationship with God and take it out to the world.
With all passions, however, there is a dark side. I can become so consumed with learning that my focus centers on the teaching rather than on the Great Teacher. It is so easy, even in this wonderful learning, to take God out of the center of my thoughts. Nouwen says it well in his prayer:
“Listen, O Lord, to my prayers. Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence. But none of this is possible without you. When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you. Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray; only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.
But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen”
May you keep the Teacher at the center of your thoughts.