“Wherever you are, be all there”
So as I was on the ICE high-speed train from Brussels, Belgium to Frankfurt, Germany to catch the next leg of our journey, I found some contraband hidden in my backpack from the family. On the front of the handmade card was my favorite family photo and the phrase written so beautifully from my wife: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Traveling at 180 mph., this is a lot to take in.
Being a part of GFU DMin GML1 means that I am investing into a program that is committed to contextual learning. The pedagogical philosophy of learning that is convinced that experiencing is a far greater nuance than just reading and writing. To learn of African Christianity, we have to see it, smell it, taste it . . . draw it in deeply. The histories can be read, the reflections can be written, but it’s truth must be experienced in the ‘now’ of being there. For far too long, we have reduced our academies of learning to the perusal of linear information and the mathematics of credit acquisition. For that, you can earn a degree. Education is an entirely different outcome, it often comes from the discipline of “wherever you are, be all there.” My cohort-mates are all presently in some form of transit to Kenya to begin our next learning advance. When we arrive, it is not our physical presence that will dictate our experience, but the posture of our souls to ‘be all there.’
Many people ask me what I want to achieve with the earning of this doctoral degree. Why do I need to spend so much money, time and energy for this degree? Will I get a new/better job? Will there be something of capital earned on the other end of capital invested? What line of rationale can I give them so that experiences can “make sense”?
What if my answer is non-sensical? What if adventure, experience and living is it’s own educational outcome? What if all the learnings that matter in life cannot be categorized in a grade report? Is it okay that I don’t know the answers to why in the end, but just live in the place of the journey I am in now? I want to be in a place of wonder, the Kingdom life is not always about assurance of conclusions. That’s why they call it faith, right?
I am type A, I am prone to anxious thoughts, I overdo things, I hype-analyze etc. etc. I am a thinker and a hard worker, but I am more than that. The letters from my kids in this package included a large note from them that said: “Make sure you don’t forget to have FUN!” These kids know their Dad. They want me to engage my heart and not just my mind. And what do I want to pass onto them about what learning is about? I want them to know its an adventure of discovery and not a degree. I want them to thirst for the answers to their questions but be enthralled just as much in the process of the inquiry. I don’t want them to ever walk out in the night under a starry sky whether it be in Ohio, Britain, Belgium or the far land of Ethiopia, and not just get struck with the wonder of it all. That wherever you are, be all there and enjoy it to the fullest.
Within each of us is a place in our heart waiting to shine light. It’s the place of passion, wonder, imagination, play, creativity and joy. The adult world of reason and conclusions seeks to stifle the light from that place. I think I want to take the wisdom from my family and walk down that corridor and into the light of these new experiences. That wherever I am, I want to be all there. I dont know what to expect, but that’s half the fun.