I have the privilege of teaching a 7th grade class every Monday. 12 and 13 year olds are a lot of fun. They are in the stage of asking lots of questions and trying to figure out what they believe about all kinds of ideas.
Recently, we discussed the book “A Gathering of Days”. The initial response from the students was that it was boring, written in a format that they didn’t enjoy, and a poor selection because it didn’t entertain them. We spent some time discussing the main characters and thinking about what was happening during the time period of the early 1800’s.
What followed that beginning assessment of the book was fantastic. One student mentioned they thought no books should be written if they were boring. We began to discuss why they thought it was boring. It wasn’t fast paced. It was written like a diary, so some of the entries say things like “it snowed today”. There wasn’t a lot of action or intrigue.
We dove into the history of the 1800’s. We talked about how long our country had been a nation at this point in history. We talked about slavery. We talked about what would have been entertainment to the characters in the book.
The question was asked – how would you feel if this was your great, great, great, great, great. . . grandmother’s diary? Would it intrigue you more to know what her life was like all those years ago?
Ultimately, our conversation led us to the discussion of our need for everything to entertain us. We discussed at length if it is a disservice to expect every book we read, every activity we do, or every event to be entertaining. What happens when we sit down to read the Bible – a book full of depth and truth – and we aren’t entertained? Do we begin to stop reading it because it’s not fast paced enough? Do we begin to focus only on the exciting parts while missing the depth? Do we begin to change the truth to make it more entertaining?
We discussed the idea of being still and wondered have we forgotten how? It takes practice to remove ourselves from all of the noise and to think deep. Noise is all around us every day – phones, iPads, iPods, movies, computers, music, and the list goes on and on.
These 12 & 13 year olds have grown up in this culture – it is their norm.
As those that have gone before them are we taking time to teach them what it looks like to be still? To ask good questions? To think deep? Do we need to be reminded how? All of the things that create noise can be used to accomplish great things, but they can also be a distraction. I hope that we’ll take the time to be still and shut out the noise, for a little while each day, to allow ourselves time to see the truth, goodness, and beauty surrounding us.