Most days when I walk my dog, Cami, I see a small pack of boys playing in the wooded section of our neighborhood park. “The woods” feels like an overstatement because it isn’t a large area, but I’m sure to children this section of the park feels very much like their own personal hundred acre woods. Because of distance learning, these neighborhood kids have had time to just play and be outside rather than be in a classroom.
Of course, there are academic things that they are missing out on because of the pandemic, but I can’t help but think about all the things they have been learning as they spend long stretches of their days riding bikes, climbing trees, building forts, and living out of their imaginations. For instance, have they gotten better at identifying animal tracks in the snow? Have they learned how to gauge how close it is to dinnertime by the slant of the sun? Have they gotten more skilled at settling their fights over the soccer ball or more kind when one member of the pack gets his feelings hurt? Learning comes in all kinds of forms, and maybe this pause in the normal classroom experience is fine-tuning other ways of knowing.
The wise men in our Epiphany scripture from yesterday remind us that being wise involves being attuned to multiple ways of knowing. Stars, dreams, intuition, hunches, listening, experiences. All ways of knowing. All ways we learn. The wise men were seekers who knew that knowledge and wisdom come from all kinds of sources because all of these sources reveal bits and pieces of God’s creation, wisdom, and Spirit work in the world.
Children need classrooms for sure, but I think they also need the woods to fine-tune other ways of knowing. They need the time, the open space to experiment, to dream, create, to use their senses to make sense of the world. I need the woods, too. How about you? What ways of knowing are you leaning on these days? Are you able to listen to your heart and your head? How are you paying attention to your bodily experience and your emotional experience? Are you able to sift through the noise of the nightly news and hear the news of God’s coming to be God with us in our human experience? Can you feel in your core the hope that comes through the promise of God’s continued work in and through us? May we pay attention, like wise men and packs of neighborhood kids, to all the ways God shows up in the world.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Noontime community prayer: From Richard Rohr
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.