what has surprised you?

Hope is finishing her first year of college this week. This morning she turned in a couple of writing portfolios. Wednesday she has a couple exams. And then I bring her home.

She was home this weekend for her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower. As we drove back to Bethel yesterday afternoon, I asked questions. It’s what I do.

“What have you learned this year that has surprised you?”

She was quiet as she started thinking. I was, too. I realized that is it a much better question than I intended.

hope in choraleShe is in college. She is taking classes. Everything there is supposed to be about learning.  But much of our learning in those settings fits with what we already know. It’s an extension of ideas, it explains what is behind the scenes.But it isn’t exactly surprising. When we attend conferences, when we hear webinars, when we read books and RSS feeds, we are often extending what we already know.

I worked in that world for many years. As I think about it, I’m not sure how many times in those years I had students say, “Wow! I never saw that coming!” At least not about anything I said.

But I’m thinking that learning that shakes us up, that challenges our assumptions, that makes us rethink is learning that surprises us. We listen to someone talk, we find ourself in a situation, we wrestle with ideas, and suddenly something clicks.

“Wow! I never saw that coming!”

Hope, by the way, had an answer. We talked for a long time.

But you, as you look back on the time since September 2009, what have you learned that surprised you?

And if your answer is “nothing”, does that surprise you?

Should it?


3 responses to “what has surprised you?

  1. I spent a good part of my adult life protecting myself (unknowingly) with narrow-mindedness and fear of the unknown. Each year I am surprised at how open I have become to new ideas and thoughts. I love working amongst people who are 10-20 years younger than I am, because they teach me so much about the world and about people…

    and I have kids, so if I’m not learning new things, I must not be awake…hmmmmm

  2. golly this sounds familiar, Jill.

  3. I’m midway through a six-month sabbatical, so I’ve slowed way down this year. What’s surprised me is how much more I am learning this way. Living in a world of information and activity – not unlike being in school – I was constantly stimulated. Living in a world of quiet, on the other hand, I have time, space, and energy for reflection. Makes a big difference. I think these six months will be more fruitful than the previous six – at least in terms of personal formation – simply because I have more time to digest whatever I chew on.