What Kids Are Capable of Doing when Focused

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At the end of a recent Liturgy I had the privilege of listening to ten children aged 6 to 14 recite as a group the first two chapters of the Book of Galatians from memory. I was amazed at this. How did they do it? They did so by practice and repetition, and it had to be disciplined. You don’t do something like this on an hour of practice. They needed to lay aside other wants and desires to focus over a period of time on this task to reach their goal. Why am I so surprised at what they did? Does it reflect the minimalism that lies at the heart of my own spiritual life?

This presentation of the children reflects what can happen when kids and their parents are not distracted and not plagued with multitasking. It reminds me of the Gospel reading of Martha and Mary that is read at feasts of the Theotokos. The problem with Martha is not that she served, but she “was distracted with much serving.” Mary sat at the foot of Christ to hear his teaching and was not distracted. The reading of the feast ends with Jesus saying, “blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” How does one keep the word of God without first hearing it?

One of the biggest challenges in learning is in retention of what we hear. I am told when sermons are given, most hear about 20% of the sermon even if it is a good one. In this age of short attention spans, repetition is so important in learning. You have to know what is being said before beginning to understand the meaning. This is why we daily say our morning and evening prayers and why we daily read the scriptures. If we do these on a hit and miss basis, we retain less and learn less.

Thank you to these children that were a source of encouragement to me. The blessing of the Lord be upon them and you!

The unworthy +Paul

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