Achievement or enjoyment?

A short reflection in week 1 of Marlborough College Summer School

“you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants” – Matthew 11.25

The daily Gospel reading for today doesn’t seem particularly appropriate for the first week of Summer School. Surely we are here taking or teaching courses to learn, to become wiser and more intelligent? And here Jesus says that the important things in life are actually hidden from the wise and intelligent and shown to infants.

summer school 1However, when we think about it, we realise that they are actually words of wisdom, conveying a truth we intuitively already know. Because I think, or I hope, that most of us here at Summer School are not here to achieve something, but rather to enjoy the process. There is no certificate, no diploma at the end for most of us, but what remains will be hopefully the memories and the discovery of skills and talents we didn’t know we had.

In a society that is focussed on certificates, paperwork and official documents, it can be a relief that the significant things in life are not so much about achievement, but more about enjoyment. The importance lies not so much in the goal, but about the way we get there. It can be easy to lose sight of this when we are learning new skills and encounter a few humps on the way. But then, when in the evenings we meet others over a meal or a glass of wine, we realise that we’re not the only one who have encountered a difficulty or two. And as soon as we start sharing our stories, we hopefully feel that precisely in the problems we encountered we found our learning, our discovery and our enjoyment.

We also have to only look around us to the many children enjoying their time, that we see that they get much better than some of us what life is about: not the achievement, the certificate at the end, but the enjoyment, the activity itself. It is the carefree enjoyment of children of which we often lose sight. However, it is precisely there where we discover our true selves, and indeed discover God.

So, let the important things come first: enjoy what you do, and enjoy who you are. A child of God, gifted and talented in our own unique ways.

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