CLERGY CORNER: “This could be the start of something big”

Posted on 29 August 2018 by LeslieM

Aretha Franklin, God rest her soul, sang many wonderful songs and one of my favorites is “This could be the start of something big.” It is certainly not one of her greatest hits, but the reason I am drawn to it is because it is a song for optimists, a song for those about to start a new and exciting adventure in their lives. There are many new starts in each of our lives – a new interest, year, job, home, town, friend, or love, and each one offers us an opportunity to use our talents in new ways and to learn new things about our world and the people we encounter.

Most of us have young people in our lives who, at this time of year, are starting a new and exciting adventure in their lives – a new school year. Now, I am the first to concede that the life lessons we learn are not all taught in our schools. My parents and grandparents had limited schooling, but they taught us many of the things we needed to know about life, family and relationships. Our schools, however, are our formal places of learning. It is in our schools that we are taught how to make a living, how the world works, how our human history progresses, and what we did, thought and created along the way, as well as what we need to know in order to co-exist, with civility, in the future of our multi-cultural and multi-ethnic world.

What should we expect of teachers when we turn our young people over to them and ask them to advance their education? When the course of study involves one of the many skilled trades that are vital to the effective functioning of our world, then the skills to be taught are obvious. If something needs to be built, teach them how to build it; if something needs to be installed, teach them how to install it; and, if something needs to be repaired, teach them how to repair it. Walt Whitman wrote of the nobility of this work and the dedication that is necessary to do it well: “I hear America singing / the carpenter, the mason, the boatman, the shoemaker, the wood-cutter and the ploughboy / each singing what belongs to him or her and to none other.”

When the course of study involves the natural world, or one of our many scientific disciplines, then a critical skill that needs to be taught, or enhanced, is the power of observation. Men like Aristotle, Copernicus, Ben Franklin and Alexander Fleming, used their powers of observation; they looked at the world, and into the heavens, and saw things differently than what their predecessors had seen. Were it not for them, we would still think the Earth is flat and that it is the center of the universe. We would still be reading by candlelight and helpless against infectious diseases. And, finally, when the course of study involves the liberal arts – religion, literature, language, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, fine arts and creative writing – the critical skill that needs to be taught is imagination. Without imagination, none of us are able to see how all our studies fit together in an operational whole.

That brings us to the most awesome gift we receive from education – the gift of curiosity, and curiosity is the responsibility of those who learn as well as those who teach. The skills of dedication, observation, imagination are all tied together by curiosity and make us lifetime learners. We become optimists with the ability to see and understand our world, and our place in it, as well as God’s will for us and the strength we need to follow Him. Learn something new every day, it “could be the start of something big.”

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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