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It’s “Back To School” time again.  Of course, with every system on a seemingly different schedule, “back to school” could almost be ANY time – and especially with the craziness of last year, some are STILL IN school…or not…anyway…

I always loved new classes and teachers, even though a day or two into a new school year brought the horror of how much homework is possible so early in the year –  AND how lost one can become in a new subject with just a couple of lessons!  Ah, the joys of learning.

One of my favorite quotes, and I collect many, is Michelangelo’s “ancora imparo” (“always/still learning”).  I’ve always enjoyed learning, knowing things and gathering information.  Yet I remember a time (not so long ago, really) when I asked my Mom and Dad when I’d be through “learning” (I think I was in First Grade). My Mom good-naturedly, or sarcastically,  laughing and saying that she had just learned something new that day, and HER mother (a teacher) always said that learning was a life-long lesson.  I believe that, and I look forward to “learning” more every day.

A friend of mine in another congregation, Rollie, was diagnosed with a cancer which eventually took his life.  He was young and his kids were only in College when he left us.  He was a great man and especially fond of new experiences; he had been a missionary in Cairo.  He preached, sang beautifully, and lived life in a big way.  His son told me that on his Dad’s last morning on earth he looked over at his son and said, “Well…this ought to be interesting.”  A few hours later he was gone…to another new and exciting, and “interesting”, experience.

Doctors say that people who have given up on learning, or accepting new things, actually “shut down” parts of the brain that keep the brain healthy…sometimes even warding off Alzheimer’s disease. 

Think about how it feels inside when you learn something new, or something “dawns on you” as you have never seen it before…don’t you feel freer, livelier, more awake?  Of course, because the process of learning gives life, causes you to grow, literally. 

Learning about God, in a faith community, in private study, and in observation, is really only helpful if it leads to the behavioral changes.  Those changes lead to YOUR happiness as you connect more closely to your Creator.  But learning in and of itself is also a “rejuvenation process”, even when the answers can’t always be found. 

The GOOD NEWS of today is that a part of the “full life” Jesus offers is LEARNING.  In the Jewish society where Jesus walked, the “questioner” was always looked at as a “wise” person – questions were encouraged – teaching, by the Rabbis, always involved a question/question debate because it activates the brain of the student to think for him/her-self.  Jesus understands the importance of seeking out answers.  His teaching continuously looks us in the face and says, “What is the core of the law?”, “Why is this important?”, and “You yourself know the answer.”

The wonderful thing about our Heavenly Father and the GOOD NEWS of today is that we can never know Him in His fullness – but the facets of His personality are always there to be observed; in His children, in the scripture, and in His created world.  We can always learn something more about Him, about each other, and about ourselves.

Learning is what we were made to do.  Learning is growth.  Learning is life.

So get those backpacks on and fill your LONE RANGER lunch box…because, in the Kingdom of God, every day is the first day of school.

Ancora Imparo “Still Learning.” Michelangelo