So here we are at the “Come and See” conference hosted by Steve Garber’s Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. And Steve opens up the conference by explaining to us the interesting title of the conference (with words to this effect – I don’t guarantee this is verbatim, though I use quotation marks):
“My 3 year old granddaughter was trying out the pool with her new water wings, cautiously getting into the water, getting used to it step by step, then jumping off the side of the pool, then beginning to splash across it, excitedly. When she had the triumphant hang of the thing, she cried out urgently, ‘Daddy, Come and see!’
“Even out of the mouths of babes comes this truth that we just can’t get beyond: Some truths, it’s just not enough to talk about and explain, by running in to the person and saying “Guess what I just did!” No, I need you to come see what I have done.
“We as humans learn our deepest truest lessons only by looking over shoulders of those from whom we want to learn – we just don’t learn lessons like that from books alone.”
At this point my mind went immediately to Michael Polanyi, but Steve anchored his point in an even more inspired source.
“The pedagogy of Jesus in John 1 is instructive, in fact normative for us. We shouldn’t stop reading books or going to lectures, but there’s just something about the way we learn, such that we must come and see what some truths look like, how they work out in life. Because of a small thing in John 1 someone says “come and see” – The Incarnation is the heart of that, the Word who becomes flesh. God who makes us understands that we must see that words can become flesh in order for us to understand – we just don’t “get” those words otherwise.
“I taught five kids to throw Frisbees – When I was young I hiked through Europe with a little backpack to containing a Frisbee – because you can always throw one to someone. And teaching my kids, I had to show them: ‘No, it’s more like this.’ – with my arm around theirs. The child would start by throwing it 3 ft, then 5 ft, then 10 ft away – then in a few weeks they could do it from across the yard. I read books to them too, but never one on Frisbee-throwing. Someone sometimes needs to put an arm around your arm, hold on, and show you “it’s more like this.” We require that words become flesh so we can understand them.”
More to come!