Do you have a yearning for learning? The early years are crammed with learning new skills: to walk, to talk, to read – “Here is Peter. Here is Jane…” You learn about the world, starting with your own home, then your street, town, county, country. You may write your name and address, with the last line saying, “The Universe.” You absorb, cramming your brain with number puzzles, horrible histories, modern languages, philosophy, science. And eventually you become an adult and realise that learning isn’t just book or internet learning about facts and figures, but learning where and how you fit into the world of relationships with God (if you believe in him), with other people and with the created world.

It involves learning the art of love, compassion and empathy, while realising that we will never attain complete knowledge of how to achieve these things. It was ever thus. The history of human beings demonstrates a lack of perfection, however much we may like to think we’re delightful people.

The yearning for learning in how to improve in such matters leads me to read and ponder and to try to put into practice – often unsuccessfully – the qualities for living that the Bible sets out with clarity: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. We’re urged to fill our minds with things that are good and deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable.

Such admirable qualities are not particularly fashionable in our anxious, cut-throat, me first, power and control culture. All the more reason to make yearning for learning a lifelong habit. To be honest, it’s about as easy for me as trying to play a complex piano sonata set in four sharps when I’m still at the grade 1 stage. But worth persevering.



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