I heard an interesting piece of a conversation today. It was on the radio, and I didn’t get in on the whole thing. But parts of it definitely caught my attention. It was on Al Kresta’s EWTN show, and the featured guest was Anthony Esolen. Esolen was talking about a whole pile of things which interest me. Poverty, education, stories.
I have often wondered whether in heaven, we’ll get to sit down and hear each other’s stories. The whole stories from beginning to end. Everyone’s amazing and completely unique life story. I guess I think if heaven is a place of perfect happiness, there must be story time. I often look around, people-watching, and just wonder what the stories are of each of these unique persons I see walking past. What amazing things are contained behind the exterior that so often doesn’t give the slightest clue as to the story underneath it. We think we can judge, but personally, I am almost always completely wrong. I would like to hear more of what Esolen was saying about people’s stories.
Kresta went on, for some reason, to ask him about something seemingly unrelated. The question of poverty, and what Jesus meant when he said “Blessed are you poor”, or “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. The point was made that the rich young ruler wasn’t told to merely make sure he wasn’t attached to his things, but to sell them all and follow Christ. No doubt about his meaning there. I always was on the side of thinking he went away sad because he knew he had a big job ahead of him and it would be hard to sell it all.
But this is a shocking statement for us in our culture, where we have truly an embarrassment of riches. Our lives are really set up with the idea in mind that we are to be making money to buy things to make ourselves comfortable. And here’s the statement I absolutely loved made by Esolen on the show, (and I paraphrase from memory): “…and there are actually Catholics out there who truly believe that the purpose of education is to learn a skill, to get a job, to be able to go out there and earn money to buy things.” I think I laughed. I’d go so far as to say there are very few people out there who don’t see it that way.
I have long felt that education is a process of forming the mind and endowing the human spirit with good things to be used throughout the journey of life. Things like stories. And as I take on the enormous task of having a hand in the education of my own children, I find it’s still my view. In fact, now more than ever. I want to give them gifts for life, arm them for life, give them tools for life, and inspire them for life. And all because I love them and I want them to know more than anything else in the world, that God loves them.
Life requires education, a job requires training. There is overlap, to be sure. And this is ground where angels fear to tread. We must trust in God, and live as His people, and not as slaves to the materialistic world. (Here I am thinking about the chosen people of God having been released from slavery and then having to be taught who they were and how to live by receiving the commandments, and having to learn to trust God in the desert every day for their food. They were used to being slaves in Egypt. they tended to think maybe that had been better. So God had to teach them that they were a people with an identity rooted in God Himself. So they had to learn what it meant to separate themselves from their past and everything they knew and were accustomed to, and to trust in God and be free.)