The excitement of the holidays has begun in earnest and teachers are just as excited if not more so than the students. The thought of lazy mornings with no alarm, no bells signalling the next lesson, not moving to someone else’s timetable, but being free to choose your own path, to do what you want to do is almost a reality. What is not to be excited about? The juxtaposition between term time and the holidays is never so apparent as at the time when they meet; possibly the light being brightest when it follows the dark.
There is a wonderful child like feeling in this excitement. The joy can feel as if it is bubbling under the surface, ready to burst and bring life back into your life. That is not to say that there are no joys in teaching, but the holidays are when you feel most alive, when you can recover and have life to the full. The long hours, emotional investment and physical exertion are only possible with the time to relax and replenish so you can give your all to the children in your classes. The work without the holidays leads to burnout and the holidays without the work leads to purposelessness. A full life requires them to be in tandem; the disciples were sent out with a mission, not just to rely on the goodwill, but to earn their keep.
When life is in tandem, things are complete, they are at their fullest, there is nothing missing. However there is a common restlessness, a feeling of something missing that seems to not be satisfied by any logical arguments or by obtaining more stuff. This feeling is not dependent on whether the sun is shining in your life or if the storm clouds are gathering. If this is all there is to life, if what we have in front of us is the extent of our purpose, if our worth, satisfaction and ability to deal with the bad stuff is just based on what we have, then it is a very incomplete world we live in.
When people you love die prematurely, when you have great success, but others suffer, it is natural to search for meaning. Rational, psychological arguments are offered, but sometimes fall short. People will always want and need more than an explanation of how our brains work or the way atoms interact however interesting and true these things are. There seems to be something in our human condition that yearns for something beyond this world. This world is not enough and as humans we are not complete with just what is in front of us.
This is why no matter how hard people try, faith will always be relevant. If it could be proved or disproved by logical arguments, faith would have disappeared long ago. If it could be explained away by experiments or elaborate proofs, it would have been. People will always be reaching for explanations and need to have a belief in something beyond this world as they cannot be complete without it, the world does not make sense without placing your trust in some assumptions that require faith to believe in. Our hearts yearn for something deeper, some connection that is beyond understanding. The true meaning of Jesus’ joy at the kingdom being hidden from the wise and revealed to mere children lies in this fact.
If it did not, them life in its fullest is an exclusive concept, a secret society where only certain people are allowed to go. It becomes an old boys club where many are excluded because they don’t understand. True joy and completion has to be relevant to everybody in every circumstance, accessible to all. It is not a question of saying what you have is all there is, but going beyond this to offer true hope that is only obtainable by faith. It is a sad world that denies this to people.
Life will only be full if we have these two aspects of the physical and spiritual working in tandem and to deny one or the other will be to the detriment of us all.