Tag Archives: Walt Whitman

The Place Where I Learned too Much

The concrete was wet. No one was looking. Someone stooped down and scribbled nine words into the pavement, “This is the place where i learned too much.” My friend told me it has sparked some discussions around campus. I told her that I hoped they left it there.

I went to that Bible school for three years. I loved it, but there were days where I felt like I was drowning in knowledge I would never be able to retain. I heard it described as standing in front of a fire hydrant and trying to drink from it with a straw. There were days I felt pretty battered mentally and physically due to a lack of sleep. I learned so much and built strong friendships, but I think I would have remembered more if less had been asked of me.

Some undergraduate teachers gave out graduate level homework priding themselves in the fact that for their students graduate work would be so much easier because they would be overly prepared. I never planned on going to grad school. Those hours and hours in the library reading books that debated the difference in how the disciples were portrayed in the book of Matthew as opposed to the book of Mark were hours of my life that I wish I could have back.

Can you learn too much? Maybe. In a way, no, and it is good to learn, but sometimes “learning” gets in the way of life. Sometimes there is so much study that the actual point gets missed in the dissection of something that should have been meditated on.

I called my sister this week. She had two eight page papers due on top of a lot of reading, two article reviews, a class project, a proposal, and mandatory chapels. She survived the week, but barely. When it comes to study, study, study I think about the poem “I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. In the poem, Whitman writes about attending a lecture on the stars. At this lecture he heard facts and figures and saw charts and measurements, but all the talk made his mind tired, and he left feeling sick. When he walked out of the building back out into the open night sky; he looked up at the stars, this time in perfect silence. Everything felt right again.

That is how I feel when it comes to studying God. Sometimes you need to close the books and just walk outside. God is too big to fit in a lecture or even a doctrinal statement. Yes, He can be studied, but more than anything He needs to be experienced. Israel’s king David, a former shepherd, was referred to as a man after God’s own heart. He didn’t just study God. He had a relationship with Him. He asked God hard questions. He wrestled with difficult truths. He poured out his heart and waited for an answer.

Bible school can become a place where you can learn too much because sometimes in the midst of “learning” the relationship gets lost. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Maybe there should be a class period of just being still, but then what would you do when God meets you in that place and the class period runs over time.


Filed under Contemplations