This past week I spoke to some students about the importance of having some kind of code (or what others would call a rule). The context was the realization that a lot of things were being thrown at them (which is true of all, regardless of academic standing), and that they would benefit from having something personal to serve as some kind of filter. I also showed this nifty “trailer” for The Kid Who Would Be King, which brought together the threads of “the knights’ code” from the movie.
What I didn’t share during the short talk (because there was so much other stuff to cover) was my own short list that could act as a kind of code. Here’s what it boiled down to:
- Use tools, not people. I’ve been thinking about the instrumentalization of people (often by organizations) for some time now. It came back to me this summer while rereading Augustine. It’s something we are all at least a little guilty of. But people are meant to be loved, not used as pawns or parts of some mechanism.
- Take up your cross daily . . . and don’t forget to follow Jesus. This, of course, comes straight from the Gospels. It’s too easy for me to do the hard work of taking up my cross and going my own way with it. That way leads to disconnect and despair (and seeing God as someone guilty of breaking #1 above). Taking up your cross only makes sense when you follow along with Jesus, the author and perfector of the way we are walking.
- When in doubt, go for a walk. This has been something for me for years, really. Some places are easier to get a good walk in than others, of course. But it’s a great way to pray, clear the mind, and imagine things differently. It’s good because it’s tactile. It’s a version of what I learned a few years ago on my first trip to England, where our tour guide told us that the best thing to do when you’re stuck or in a quandary is to make a cuppa tea.
I might get around to sharing this with the students next week. Maybe the adult leaders? We’ll see. Either way, it was a good exercise to do before giving the challenge to others.