The Library: Independent Study

Independent study.  The student declares that he wants to learn sign language so that he can communicate with deaf members of his church, and so he begins to create a list of resources that he will use to try and teach himself American Sign Language.

Independent study.  The doctor is having trouble finding the cause of the problem.  The woman refuses to accept the “we don’t know, so in the meantime, take these drugs.”  She begins to look, research, and practice a deep kind of curiosity about her own body and what it means to be healthy.

Independent study.  They bring the bundle called “baby” home from the hospital.  And whether this is the most perfect baby or the most challenged baby, the couple begins a life long search for how to parent, how to raise, how to listen, how to love, how to guide, how to help this little being grow up and live.

Independent study.  My garden.  My students.  My health.  My way of dealing with difficult people.  My car.  My house.  My household budget.  My feelings.  All of these venues and more become the question, the curiosity, the courage, the compassion that drives me to seek more information, more help, more wisdom.

And so, I need The Library.  That library might be a traditional room or building filled with books.  It might be favorite websites or new websites where valuable information can be found.  When it comes to finding what I need, my “independent study” might be a conversation or an email or a Facebook post asking my friends for help and advice.

Whatever form The Library takes for me in my Independent Study, I have to sit with what I find in my search.  I have to look over the information, the wisdom, the experiences collected by others and ask myself:  what will I do with this and how shall I go forward?

Our needs create questions within us.  Our questions become our curiosity.  Our curiosity has the capacity to make us courageous, and our courage just might, based on what we find in the libraries of our lives, lead us to more compassionate living.

What do you really need today?

Bob Patrick

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