In the 1990s, PBS aired re-runs of Michael Landon?s ?Little House on the Prairie.? As an elementary school student during those years, I honestly had no idea the shows were re-runs. But I?m guessing I wouldn?t have cared.
Every day, the bus dropped my sister and me off at the top of our driveway with just enough time to spare for us to trek down to the house, drop our book bags, grab something to eat and flip on the TV at 4 p.m.
One of my favorite episodes is called ?Country Girls.? In it, Laura and Mary go to school for the first time. Mary can?t wait to go. Laura would rather stay home to help with the fish traps.
In her effort to avoid school, Laura asks Ma, ?How long will all this learning take??
Laughing, Ma replies, ?We start learning when we?re born, Laura. And if we?re wise, we don?t quit learning until the Lord calls us home.?
In dramatic response, Laura asks, ?That long??
I don?t know why that dialogue stuck with me. But I always think Ma?s words are profound.
I?m guessing we have all had some form of formal education. Most of us gleaned knowledge from instructors and books, be that in a one-room school, private school, public school or home school.
During our academic pursuits, we learn to read, to write, to figure. But at some point, our classroom experience ends. The structured book-learning only takes us so far.
Then other ?teachers? hopefully take over. And if we are wise, we continue learning and building on the lessons we?ve been dealt.
Well, my teachers have exceeded my expectations?I?ve definitely been learning.
Some lessons have been painful:
From my gravel and rock road, I have learned that if when running, feet can feel the gravel and rocks through the running shoes, then it?s probably time to replace said shoes.
Some lessons have been annoying:
My oldest wanted to check out ?Dora the Explorer? from the library, so I complied. That afternoon, I squelched my irritation at the annoyingly loud show, realizing that in a comparison between Dora and Curious George, the adorable (non-obnoxious) monkey wins hands down.
Some lessons have been stretching:
Over the last weeks, I have been in conversation with a friend who considers himself an atheist. I am a Christian. I expected our views to be very different. And they are, particularly about God. But amazingly, despite our lack of consensus over the first and greatest Christian command, ?Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,? we found common ground over the second command of equal importance, ?Love your neighbor as yourself.?
Some lessons have been reinforcing:
For my aunt?s 50th birthday, family and friends surprised her with dinner and gambling. I love my aunt, and wouldn?t have missed her big celebration for anything, but for me, it meant going to a casino for the first time. I was pretty sure I wouldn?t like it, but you know the saying, ?Don?t knock it ?til you try it.?
So I tried it. Aside from the sickening smell of smoke, I didn?t understand any of the games, and I don?t enjoy putting money in the machines simply to push buttons. So, after losing $6 in a variety of slots, I retreated to the hot tubs.
And some lessons have been surprising:
A couple months ago, I used my column to write about my friends Anna and Jerad Woods. The Woods family is working to adopt a little boy with Down syndrome from eastern Europe.
According to Anna, the fundraising has had high moments and also low moments. Last week was a low moment.
Multiple times, I?ve wished I had unlimited funds to donate a large amount of money to their needed $25,000. But I don?t.
What I did have seemed small, and nearly impossible. During my years at Tabor, I worked in the public relations office. While the director I worked under no longer works at Tabor, she does work as the director of communication at Prairie View.
I knew the Woods? story was newsworthy. In fact, the Free Press covered the story a few weeks ago. But I also thought that if I had some contact information for the television media in Wichita, surely someone would be interested.
That?s where my friend from Tabor came in. She had the contact information I needed. And in Providential timing (the day after I sent the e-mail, in fact), KSN recorded and aired the story Aug. 12.
Maybe I?m the only one, but sometimes I find myself wondering why I am doing a particular thing at a particular moment.
In this case, even if I never use my public relations experience again, my time was well-spent at Tabor, if only for the story covering a special little boy?s adoption. An anonymous donor from Hillsboro piggybacked off the news coverage and offered up to $1,000 toward the adoption?$1 for every comment posted on Anna?s blog, homeonthekansasrange.blogspot.com.
Surprising. And yet, not so surprising.
It all goes back to loving your neighbor and responding to the call to be wise until the Lord calls us home.