h lear n

When I was at school it was compulsory to have name labels sewn into all items of school uniform, sports kit and so on. This meant that a lot of name labels were needed – double the amount because my sister was also at school and needed name labels too.

My ever-resourceful Mum came up with a clever money-saving plan. She order a number of embroidered name labels with “H LEAR N” on them. This meant that for my sister’s clothes she could fold over the ‘N’ so it said ‘H LEAR’ and for mine she would fold over the ‘H’ so it said ‘LEAR N’. Clever, eh?

What it also meant was that in all of my school clothes was a reminder of what I was there for: LEARN, LEARN, LEARN, LEARN, LEARN!

ClassroomI am not sure how much attention I gave to the name label learning imperative. If I am honest I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the name labels. But they were there nonetheless and so was the message.

I was reminded of it recently when I was watching a golf instructional video on YouTube in the vain hope that I might learn the secret of how not to slice the ball. In the opening titles to the video were some words including ‘learn’. I thought it was lovely that they had produced the video just for me!

I wonder whether all of us could do with name labels like that? All of us can learn: all of the time. Indeed the moment we give up wanting to learn we surrender one of the things that makes us human – inquisitiveness. It is that inquisitiveness that led Og and his friends to learn how to make fire. It is that inquisitiveness that led to the invention of the wheel that led to the invention of the axle that led to the invention of the cart that led to the invention of the animal harness that led to the ability to move people and heavy loads over long distances that led to… you get the idea.

It is that inquisitiveness that is leading some scientists to explore the particles that make up the particles that make up the particles that make up everything in this Universe, and is leading some others to look into the vastness of space and discern the origins of this Universe.

It is that inquisitiveness that leads a child to ask ‘why?’ (over and over again).

It is that inquisitiveness that makes us ask ‘why?’. Why are we here? Is there a purpose to life? Is there something or someone behind everything?

I have said before in bloggages that I do not see any conflict between science and faith. Both of them are ways of exploring our Universe. Both of them enable us to use our God-given inquisitiveness and discover more about life, the Universe and everything (42?). Both of them (if they are honest about each other) are human attempts to make sense of what we see and experience. But both of them (if they are honest about each other) are explorations of the infinite that are limited by the finite.

We won’t know everything. We can’t know everything. Our brains are amazing but no one person can contain and access all of the facts in the known world at the moment, never mind what we will discover. But we will keep exploring and learning.

We won’t know everything about God. We can’t know everything about God. But we can keep exploring and learning. The wonderful thing is that he has made it easier for us by limiting himself to our capacity, making himself comprehensible and at the same time sorting out the biggest problem that we humans face – death and separation from him. Want to learn more? Read a Gospel!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

I hit him back first

There is a Garfield cartoon strip where Odie (the dog) is sitting near Garfield (the cat if you didn’t know). Odie is not doing anything in particular, he is just sitting when WHAP! Garfield thumps him. When confronted by Jon, his owner, Garfield’s response is, “I hit him back first.”

Pre-emptive strikes seem to be part of our world now. It is militarily and strategically more effective to get your punch in before the other side can. If you know that the other side can inflict serious damage to you, it is seen as best to try to take out that capability. We hit them back first.

Punch 2Sadly it seems that this approach is no longer reserved for comic strips and military campaigns. I note with sadness how some politicians not only run each other down after the event, but they get their punches in early by commenting about what is expected to be said or expected to happen. I recognise with real disappointment that it is also something that happens in relationships – someone fears that the other person will say or do something that will hurt them so they go on the offensive. They get the verbal punches in first.

Do you recognise it in yourself? No?

There are times when I think ahead about an event or a meeting and in my mind I play out what might happen. If I imagine a ‘worst case scenario’ I can find myself planning what I will say or do in response. So, before I go into that meeting I already have negative thoughts about what may or may not happen. I have planned my (defensive) response before anything has occurred.

I need God’s grace to help me. I need his grace so that I am looking for the positive, not assuming the negative. I need his grace to help me not to want to be defensive but lovingly to seek truth. I need his grace to help me to realise that I need to listen and learn much more than I need to talk.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

When I was at school my Mum used to sew name labels in my clothes. She used to do the same for my older sister. One day she hit on an idea to help save the cost of having two lots of labels made up. She got them made with both our initials on them, one at the start of the label and the other at the end. She would fold the end over that was not needed. The labels looked like this:


My sister had ‘H LEAR’ in all her clothes. In all my clothes there was a reminder that I was to LEAR N!