The Wonder of Learning

She's heading off to preschool this week.

This eldest child of mine, so full of excitement and curiosity, is beginning her journey of learning.

Although I suppose she's not just beginning, is she? She's been learning since the moment she first entered this amazing world.

This thought makes me wonder about the idea of learning. If all of our life is to be made sacred, one seamless piece of fabric that is woven around God, how should learning fit in?

I am reminded of wisdom I read recently: 
Education is the atmosphere we breathe, the envelope of wonder that surrounds us, held by the gravity of our daily habits. ~ Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience

Is this learning? Simply being in awe of God's world, desiring to discover as much of it as we can? Perhaps if we remain in awe of God, we naturally gain a zest for learning. Perhaps if we possess that sense of wonder, we become a "creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning" (also Ann Voskamp).

It seems, as I explore what learning should be and as I re-visit my thoughts about all things being sacred in our daily lives and in the world around us, that learning is, at least in part, simply staying awake in the moment. It is exploring, being curious, holding tightly to that sense of wonder in God and His handiwork.

If so, than learning should happen in every moment rather than being confined to certain hours of schooling. Are the lines that we draw between school and the rest of our lives artificial and wrong?

This idea fits in with other things about which I have pondered. The entire fabric of our lives should be sacred, seamless, one piece woven around praising and thanking our God. 
For in Him we live and move and have our being. ~ Acts 17.28
Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit around it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude. 
~Elizabeth Barret Browning

My latest issue of Mars Hill Audio Journal arrived this week and caused me to wonder if they had anything to say about learning and knowledge. I found an essay by Ken Meyers in which he speaks of universities and discusses the importance of knowledge to our faith:
We can begin by regularly reminding ourselves that the God who saves us is the God who made us and all things, that our message of redemption only makes sense in the context of the bigger story about creation. Our God cares about all aspects of our lives, and thus the renewing of our minds is as needful as the cleansing of our hearts.
He also says this: 
Loving God and neighbor requires knowledge of the truth about God and the truth about the many challenges and opportunities of human experience in the world God has made.
The importance of knowledge to our faith is something we as a church don't seem to talk about very much.

In fact, as I think more about it, knowledge and faith often seem to be held up by the church as incompatible or, at the very least, two very separate things, with faith being the essential piece to our salvation.

While I am thinking through these things, our Sunday class (does anyone call it Sunday School anymore?) is studying II Peter.

Our teacher points out that Peter seems to say that knowledge is essential to our faith. Through knowledge of God we have grace and peace. Through knowledge of God we have everything we need for life and godliness. Knowledge sits right between goodness and self-control in Peter's list of important qualities to seek.

But what sort of knowledge? What does Peter mean by this word?

I dive into my Strong's.

Oh. There are two different words used in this first chapter of II Peter.

The first one, the word that gives us grace, peace, everything we need, is epignosis (precise/correct knowledge) which is related to epiginosko (to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to perceive who a person is).

Relationship knowledge.

The second word, the word that Peter urges us to add to our faith along with goodness, self-control, perseverance  godliness, brotherly kindness and love? This word is gnosis (general intelligence, understanding, implying science).

Creation knowledge.


Once again, all is related, all is woven together into one beautiful, seamless fabric.

Learning, gaining knowledge, is a large part of how we weave the various parts of our lives together into a seamless, sacred whole. Not something to be relegated to school-type hours.

We seek for epignosis, to become thoroughly acquainted with God, so that we may have everything we need for life and godliness.

We seek for gnosis, general understanding about the world He has created, so that we may keep from being ineffective and unproductive in our epignosis of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May we remain in awe of God and retain our sense of wonder in the world (including its creatures, human and otherwise) He has created.  May we continue to pursue knowledge in every moment of our daily lives and turn that knowledge into praise and thanksgiving, into loving of all those around us.

art credit: Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer 

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