A Note from Anne: I made a mistake. I send these meditations to my administrative assistant to be distributed to the church family. I attached the meditation for September 7 before I saved it. So what the congregation received in the first email from was just the first paragraph or so. The meditation was about opening to and awareness of opportunities to learn. Even before I learned of my mistake, I was rewriting the meditation, sensing that I wanted to make some changes. Below is draft 2. I learned two things without intending to, from a mistake. Save your work before hitting send. Give yourself the opportunity to grow. ~ Anne
Ten minutes into the first day of virtual 1st grade, Microsoft Team, both the app and on the web-browser crashed. Anne-Sophie, age 6, turned to her father and asked, “Daddy, am I not going to learn anything this year?” Her heart-felt question is one that resonates with many of us right now, from preschoolers to postgraduate students, around our nation and the world. It’s an important question that families, school districts, colleges, and communities are grappling with as schools open, virtually or in-person or with some hybrid of both.
Anne-Sophie and her dad were learning much on that first day of school, lessons that aren’t measured by report cards or S.A.T. scores. They were learning (and modeling) how to deal with disappointment, how to be patient, how to be kind, how to be honest and humble, how to ask for help, how to extend love and grace to self and others and how very fragile and vulnerable we feel in this season.
I’d like to propose two additional versions of the question, “What am I learning this year?” It’s a question for all of us, as individuals; and its corollary, “What are we learning this year?” as a community of faith. For learning isn’t limited to those enrolled in schools, it can be a lifelong process, that is, unless we harden our hearts and our minds to anything new or different.
Carol Dweck, a psychologist, has done extensive study on mindset, identifying two different traits, a growth (or open) mindset and a fixed (or closed) mindset. Those with growth mindsets are able to be objective about themselves and their knowledge and admit what they do not know. Those with fixed mindsets are emotionally attached to their knowledge and have a hard time disconnecting from themselves, and thus become defensive when challenged or given critical feedback.
It is true! I recall physical therapy after a hip replacement. The first challenge wasn’t how difficult the exercises were, but to learn the difference between “I can’t” and “I’m not yet able.” The same is true for learning in school, as well as in the school of the Spirit. It takes humility, and a portion of grace, to be object about ourselves and to admit what we don’t know. It requires an attitude of repentance (which means a change of heart and mind).
Pharaoh, who hardened his heart repeatedly in Exodus 4-11 had a fixed mindset. King David, both an adulterer and murder, when confronted by the prophet Nathan, wrote Psalm 51, an amazing expression of a growth mindset. God’s mercies are new every morning. Approaching each day with a growth mindset is what grace, and God, are all about!
What will you learn, and model today? ~ Anne