More Back-to-School Lessons…for All Students of Life

Twenty-five years ago, minister and writer Robert Fulgham completed his widely read best-seller entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In his book, Fulgham lists lessons normally learned in kindergarten classrooms. He explains how our world may be improved if adults

adhered to the same basic rules as children: Be kind, share, clean up after yourself, and similarly succinct moral-messages.

The month of September is customarily known as back-to-school month.

A year ago, in this space, I presented a list of ten back-to-school ponderings. This year, I present another list of ten reflections. This year, in the spirit of Fulgham’s evocative book, I offer life-lessons for all
“students” of life, regardless of age.

  1. Kindness builds up, whereas meanness tears down. One cannot do a kindness too soon. One never knows how soon it will be too late.
  2. Treat all persons with respect. All humans bear the image and likeness of God within them. Honor the God-reflection within each human being.
  3. Praise is a powerful motivator. Tell others when they do something well. They likely will do it again and will try harder to do it well.
  4. Everyone is different. “Different” is not evil or threatening. Watch and learn how others are different. Then, celebrate the delights of diversity.
  5. Think twice and then speak once. Words spoken aloud cannot be deleted. Spoken words can be a gift or a weapon.
  6. Confront bullying. Bullying seeks to damage and diminish the God-given worth of human life and natural life. Bullying: Name it, face it, stop it.
  7. Remember the importance of ritual. Do something twice, and it may become a ritual; do something 21 times, and it may become a habit. Ritual feeds and gives order to the human spirit.
  8. Acknowledge the need for sanctuary. Sometimes humans need a “time out” from other humans and from themselves. When thresholds of civility, of health and of safety are crossed, seek and reside in a neutral territory.
  9. Discern the difference between the urgent and the important. It may be urgent that one arrive at a certain location. But it is important that one take the time to listen…even if it requires one to be a bit late in arriving at that location.
  10. Gossip is poison. Like poison, do not pour gossip into your mouth. Like poison, do not pour gossip into the mouths of others.

* * * * *

In a “real” classroom setting, each teacher teaches differently. Each student learns differently.

However, the classroom of life has no walls, no desks, no chalkboards.

Even so, the classroom of life has assignments and homework and tests.

In the classroom of life, we humans are both teacher and student.

We, who are believers and followers of One whom we call God, have two “simple” but profound life-lessons to learn:

Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.

This first life-lesson is recorded in Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and in Luke 10:27.

Love others as you love yourself.

This second life-lesson is recorded in Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31.

We, who are believers and followers, are called to do more than recite these two life-lessons. We are to learn what these two lessons mean, learn how to apply these two lessons and then live these two lessons…
every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year of our lives. No weekends off and no summer vacation from these two life-lessons.

The ten back-to-school lessons cited earlier are methods by which we may apply the two principal life-lessons: Love God… and Love others….

It is back-to-school time for some students.

It is let’s-keep-on-learning-and-living-and-loving time for all students of life.

Together may we learn and live and love, following the two most important life-lessons that we have been given.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara