I thought about naming this blog, “when the student is ready but not listening, the teacher (ala the Universe) will keep beating the student over the head until the student gets it” but alas, the title seemed a little wordy.
As a long time strategy guy, numbers and logic play a very significant role in my Life. I routinely advise people about the importance of measurable outcomes, facts, data and knowledge in order to convert their dreams into realities.
While my instincts in business are strong, data-centric people like me often struggle when instincts and the need for or lack of data collide.
And within that struggle, an invitation to learn was created for me this morning.
At about 11am this morning, in the midst of a bazillion phone calls, emails, deliverables and everything else, I suddenly felt compelled to go to my local church.
“Hmmm”, I thought, “I wonder where that came from” and I returned to my tasks at-hand.
No sooner had I returned to my work when the message came to me even stronger and I shrugged it off again.
It wasn’t until the third time that the message popped into my head that I paused, looked at the list of things that had to be done today, closed my laptop and proceeded to the church.
I was sitting in the front pew reflecting on a few things for about ten minutes when I suddenly sensed someone behind me. Again, I ignored my instinct to turn around, albeit briefly, but then curiosity got the better of me and I looked behind me.
A woman, I would guess in her 30’s, was standing there and as I looked at her, she apologized for disturbing me. I replied that she wasn’t disturbing me at all and I resumed my reflection. She walked up the aisle and sat in the front pew on the opposite side of the aisle.
A few minutes later she got up, walked over to the baptismal font, touched the water with her hands, wiped her face and then went back and sat down. Shortly after that, she got up, went to the baptismal font again, touched the water and wiped her face with it and then she went to light a candle between the statues of Joseph and Mary.
Shortly afterward, she return to the front pew and burst into tears.
I gave her privacy for what felt like a minute or so and then went over to ask if there was anything I could help her with.
She shook her head and I asked her if she wanted to talk about it. She shook her head again.
Uncertain as to how to proceed, I asked her if I could find someone to help her, would she be ok with that and she nodded.
I could have done many things at that moment, including looking for a priest, but something compelled me to look for help elsewhere (no offense to priests). However, having made the offer to help, I had no idea what to do next.
That was when I started to look up therapists online and began calling ones that resonated with me. I don’t know why – I just started doing it automatically.
I made seven calls.
I got two voicemail systems and four people who, after hearing my story, told me they were booked for the day and that I could make an appointment if I wished.
The seventh one listened to me and then asked me where I was.
I told her what church I was in and she indicated that she would be right over.
Fifteen minutes later, the therapist and the young lady were having a quiet conversation in a corner of the church while I hung out on the opposite side, feeling a little awkward about whether I should leave or stay.
Soon it appeared that they were finished talking and were preparing to leave. The therapist came over to me and thanked me, indicating that I had done something very special and important today.
The young lady approached me, hesitated for a moment and then hugged me while whispering “thank you”. It was the only words she had spoken to me during our entire interaction.
The therapist put her arm around the young lady, told me that they were going to her office and that everything would be ok.
And then they left.
Upon reflection ….
In the solitary quiet that had returned to the church, I sat and reflected on what had just happened. I could have ignored my instinct and remained focused on my day and perhaps created a different type of day for all three people; the young lady, the therapist and myself.
After all, many times that is indeed what we focus on in this busy world – my day, my problems, my needs, my victories. We live in a world that, despite the promise of social media and technology connecting us, becomes more narcissistic every day.
But then I remembered two other days when my instinct called to me strongly and despite the enormous pressures of those days, I answered the call. I wrote about the two days here - The Importance of Conversation and The Power of Trusting Your Instinct.
And then it occurred to me that the when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
And when the student hasn’t really absorbed the lesson, then the teacher will reappear.
I guess the teacher will keep reappearing as many times as is necessary until the student really gets it.
Hopefully I got it this time.
When your instinct calls you, do you listen to it or do you shrug it off as silliness or irrelevant as compared to the importance of your day?
How will you know how silly or irrelevant it really is unless you listen to it and allow it to guide your actions?
In service and servanthood,