Eleanor Roosevelt was a remarkable woman – dedicated to her husband, her country and public service. She wrote several books, but when she wrote You Learn by Living, Eleven Keys for a Fulfilling Lifeas at the age of seventy-six, she had acquired experiences that enabled her to give good advice for those who want to live a full life. The high premium she placed on learning is a great example for us all.
She was very honest in her assessment of herself. She shared many instances of how others taught her the value of learning, but an example (in her first chapter) of an adjustment in her own thinking set the pattern for the rest of the book.
“Perhaps the most essential thing for a continuing education is to develop the capacity to know what you see and to understand what it means…As an example, many years ago the Consumers League asked me to check on conditions in department stores. I made my report. it was valueless.
“But,” I was asked,”do these women have any stools to sit on behind the counter when they are not waiting on customers or must they stand all day?”
For years I had gone to departments stores, I have seen women behind counters. It never occurred to me that perhaps they could never sit down and rest. I hadn’t looked….
When I began – so slowly – actually to look around me and to try to understand the meaning of what I saw, everything I encountered became more interesting and more valuable. It was like a two-dimensional picture seen in three dimensions, with depth.”
This was not the last time Mrs. Roosevelt mentioned questions that made her think. She learned by listening and looking.
Mrs. Roosevelt did not indicate that she was talking about a lack of spiritual eyes, ears and understanding, but her example reminded me of Jesus speaking of people who have eyes, but cannot see and ears but cannot hear. That would, I believe, present the two-dimensional picture that Mrs. Roosevelt described. We live in a three dimensional world, but we can ignore a lot of it. Depth of living and learning comes from observing the world – as much as possible – from God’s perspective.
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:17-21).