‘When we cannot get what we love, we must love what is within our reach.’ French Proverb
I head to the car with my sunflowers. Nothing much changes really. Different school, different children but the lessons are the same. In science we are studying ‘living things.’ I love this unit of work, it’s kind of new to the children but it’s not new to me. I have taught this lesson before a thousand different ways and yet it is me who always discovers way more than the children.
I’m a slow learner but given the opportunity I to get involved – to plant, to touch, to smell, to hold – the concepts sink deep. Or so I think. Until suddenly I realise that the question I’ve been asking is the same one I have already asked. I know the answer. It just isn’t the answer I’m looking for. Sometimes we think it is God who got it wrong so we pitch the question a different way. No wonder He hangs the ‘out for lunch’ sign on His door.
He isn’t in a hurry for this test to be over, to move us to the next stage. He is quite happy that if we don’t get it first, we can sit the test again. It’s like the children with their sight words and readers. They desperately want the next set but sometimes they aren’t quite ready; I have to accept that, maybe, neither am I.
We’ve planted seeds in Kindergarten. Every child was given seeds from the same packet; they planted them into the same soil, they lined up their pots along the same wall and watered them from the same can. Yet as we make our way to our garden we notice that life isn’t fair. Some people have healthy plants and some have only soil. It makes no sense and there are tears. There are always tears in Kindergarten. I take the child who has only soil in her pot by the hand, I lean over and I wipe her eyes. “It will be okay,” I say. “We can plant again.” She nods and sniffs. Everyone sits quietly for the replanting. Their hearts break for their little friend who has no life in her pot. But I know that she is already behind everyone else and that this plant will be smaller when it’s time to take them home.
Sometimes it seems that everyone else is further ahead. That for some reason unknown to us they got the break we were looking for. Sometimes we think our turn has come. We are full of enthusiasm and hope, telling ourselves (and anyone who cares to listen) that we’ve paid the price and we are prepared. But try as we might, we cannot move. It seems we’ve done nothing but spin in circles; we are exactly where we were when we first set out. This journey is taking longer than we ever thought and the lack of progress is frustrating. “It’s a lifecycle,” one child tells me, when we discuss the way the seeds drop to the ground when the sunflower dies. She is excited about this discovery and suddenly I realise that I don’t want to go around this mountain again.
I lie down on the inside. I make a conscious decision to stop spinning and let the impact of the turns I’ve already made pin me to the ground. I feel the weight of this and though I am still, everything spins around me. Every circumstance, every lesson and all the things I have learned. I look up and tell God that this time I will surrender. That whatever He wants, I will do. I am honest with Him. I think He has made the wrong decision on my behalf but I hand over control anyway; I tell Him I won’t move until He does. I become like the Israelites.
When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Numbers 9:19
As the world spins past, I ask Him to help me rest in the knowledge that He knows better than me.