Wednesday, January 2, 2013

burn brighter than the sun

“To the uneducated an 'A' is just three sticks.” 
 ― A.A. Milne 

I was reminded by my parents, on a day during which I was feeling stressed and harried, rather than particularly grateful, "Take time to thank God for all the opportunities you have at Notre Dame." 
In moments of clarity, I'm ashamed of how I take education for granted.
 Someone once told me: If you’re smart, you’ve got power, and so you will never be poor.

I was talking with my friend about words and the powers of words. He brought up the excellent point that the world and its school of hard knocks could warp and bend the meaning of words, so that love means something more like lust and friend means something more like enemy. Formation is essential for human beings, who are so easily able to be bent and malformed.

Education is formation, but more than that, in the words of Yeats: "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." Education achieves its formation by setting the soul on fire. By exposing the tender mind and developing heart to the best and brightest ideas thought by the greatest thinkers, the young soul learns what goodness, truth, and beauty actually mean.
And those three intangibles should smite the heart of the young student, and make him yearn for something he can't find in his schoolbooks. They should create in her a longing for "the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." (C.S. Lewis. Naturally.)

Education does not so much strip the world of its mystery. Our minds too often make the mistake of reducing the world to something simpler than it is.
Education restores to the world the rightful wonder that it is due.
So that 2+2 is not simply a sum we can master; but rather a strange brand of magic symmetry, that reveals the inner workings of nature, while shrouding them in impenetrable beauty.

 "There is a reality outside the world, outside space and time, outside man's mental universe, outside any sphere whatsoever that is accessible to human faculties. Corresponding to this reality, at the center of the human heart, is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world.”
--Simone Weil

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