Well she’s off on Monday – a dad’s hope for university education

So she’s off to university on Monday.

Her passage through school has been, let’s use a positive word, exciting.

School (Thornton College and Monkton Combe), ultimately, did her proud. She passed her exams with the requisite grades, but more importantly grew into her frame. I have used the word frame purposefully as my daughter has had to learn to prosper and grow into, and through, her disability. No easy task. A task made easier by some wonderful, and wise, educators.

So off she goes to study Theology and Religion, and she goes with a whole set of hopes, and maybe a few fears. But, what do I, her dad, hope for? What would a top notch university experience look like?

Let’s start with the obvious: I hope she develops the skills to be a first rate theologian and that, through the technical expertise (knowledge) she obtains, she will be able to make a significant difference to the communities in which she will subsequently live and serve. I also pray that she will develop some wonderful and life giving friendships.

But here is my real hope, the ‘’biggy:’’

I hope (and pray) that she (and all other students) will also grow in wisdom. For the ability to make life enhancing contributions, to serve the environments in which we live and work, is a function of wisdom plus knowledge, worked out through imagination.

Now wisdom is a difficult word to pin down so let’s consider just three verses from Scripture – all from the Old Testament – that capture my understanding:

Genesis 1, 27: ‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.’

For me that means all humankind: male, female, pale skinned, darker skinned, able bodied and so called disabled, straight, gay: he created them.  God’s wisdom is made manifest in and through each individual act of creation. (Creation was not a one off!)

Can you imagine a world where everyone knew that they were created in the image of God? This surely would be the beginning of wisdom, the starting place for transformation, salvation even, of the world?

Psalm 139, 14: ‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.’

Surely our only response to the ‘wisdom of creation’ can / should be the ‘wisdom of thanksgiving?’  Can you imagine a world where thanksgiving for the amazing diversity of human creation was truly celebrated?

Jeremiah 29, 11: ‘For surely you know that plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not harm, plans to give you a future with hope.’

So here with have it: the wisdom of hope (where hope is built on trust). And it strikes me that we all have one more bit of imagining to do. Can we imagine a world, or at least the small section of the world we inhabit, where all can prosper and non need fear? If we can, we might just be imagining what the kingdom of earth as in heaven looks like, we might actually be seeing a glimpse of salvation. But in order to do we need to fully assimilate the wisdom of Genesis 1, 27? As always we must return to the beginning, for this is the start of all worthwhile wisdom?  




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