Are you learning anything new? No, I don’t mean a new approach to sermon preparation or a new time management technique or a new method for adult education. I mean something completely new, and unrelated to ministry.
Last week I had a bread baking lesson. I was visiting my friend and colleague, Meg Hess, who in addition to her work as a pastoral counselor and teacher of preaching, is quite a baker. She’s taken professional baking courses at King Arthur. Now, baking is not completely new to me. But I’ve always been intimidated by yeast. Meg walked me through the steps, gave me a recipe and many additional comments on the process. I feel much more ready to tackle yeast bread on my own, and came home ready to give it a try.
I found myself paying close attention to everything: the exact look of the dough at different stages, the feel of it, each piece of equipment needed to make the process easier. Here’s the value of learning something new: to take it in, you have to pay attention, and you don’t have a lot of assumptions about it. The Buddhists call this “beginner’s mind.” A beginner is more open. Any kindergarten teacher knows this well.
Learning something new is valuable for its own sake. At the same time, if we can bring that same open attitude of learning to the situations we already know well, we may be able to have a fresh perspective on them, and find more energy for work and for life.
What new thing might you learn? If not baking, then: golf, watercolor painting, auto repair…the possibilities are endless.
Or, what new thing have you learned lately? Let me know.