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Do I have a Teachable Heart?

This week, Richard Rohr's meditations have been about cultivating a beginner's mind...what it takes to be ready for and able to understand what Jesus is talking about. Like C. S. Lewis, Richard suggests that only if we come to Jesus with the heart and the mind of a child will we fully understand Jesus, only if we have what Richard calls a Beginner's Mind.

As an example of how to achieve that heart and mind, Richard quotes spiritual writer Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's suggestions on how to develop a teachable heart. I was intrigued with her use of the word teachable because it took me back to language we used in education to describe the various levels of special needs children. Some were educable, some were teachable and some were only trainable. If a child was labeled with any of these terms, he or she qualified for what is called an IEP - Individual Educational Plan. I loved writing these for students, and I advocated for all students to have them.

An IEP describes how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning, and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively. What student wouldn't benefit from such an approach? Who among us wouldn't benefit from such an approach?

Applying these terms to myself, I wonder if my heart is educable or teachable or trainable? Adele Calhoun says,

Jesus constantly looked for teachable people—people who would look beyond appearances

and not make snap judgments. He warmed to those who asked honest questions. And he

was grieved and dumbfounded by the educated who were hardhearted, unteachable and

dense. He said to them, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them

you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to

come to me to have life” (John 5:39).

And if our hearts are not teachable, wouldn't we benefit from an individual educational plan?!?

Calhoun suggests things to look for that might enhance the teachability of our hearts (a veritable IEP!)

Become aware of your compulsions to let others know what you think.

Notice when you’re composing what you will say next rather than listening to the one

who is speaking. When do you feel the urge to pontificate or otherwise hold forth?

Ask God to give you a teachable heart and a will to listen. What do you learn about

yourself? About others? About what God values?

Anyone want to join me in the special needs class for teachable hearts? We will search for the spark of a child's mind, fresh and always curious about experience!


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