“Beloved God, please help me find the ways in which my mind can learn from my heart, and my heart can learn from my mind, so my body can find some peace.”
This is the prayer Jesus wrote for me in August 2011 when we started the Realspiritik series of posts, and this is the prayer I’d like to return to today as Jesus and I wrap up this particular body of thought.
As always when I write with Jesus, I’ve learned many new things as we’ve written Realspiritik together, things I didn’t know till my fingers hit the keyboard keys, things that only became clear to me as I asked for — and received — clarification on difficult ideas.
There’s a lot of ancient history in this book — more than I originally expected when we started to talk about science and faith — but there’s a good reason for this. The full title for Book Five should really be Realspiritik: How the Human Sense of Time Is Changing Your Life.
The greatest issue facing people of faith today boils down to history. The kind of history you study in school and read about in newspapers and books and online journals. Not history of religion per se. Just . . . history. An ability to work with timelines — past, present, and future. An ability to see yourself on a timeline. An ability to see others on a timeline. An ability to see changes over time and learn from these changes.* An ability to flow with the tides of time.
It matters what people said, thought, and did in the past. Learning about the past shapes the present human brain in healthy, holistic ways. Learning about the past builds the parietal and parieto-temporal regions of the brain so they work smoothly and efficiently with other parts of the brain.
Want to guide the development of advanced mathematical and scientific skills in your children? Don’t start with math and science. Start with history. Start with the history of relationships over time. Allow the brain to build the connections over several years. Then add the math and science. You can’t force math and science skills to grow in a timeless vacuum. You need to build the sense of time and timing before the math and science will make any sense.
Time is the glue that helps your mind learn from your heart and your heart from your mind. It takes time for your brain to build important connections and use these connections in synchronized ways. (Interesting that early researchers decided to call the brain’s connecting cells “glia,” which literally means “glue.”) The connections — the glial cells — are what matter to overall brain health. It’s the little white cells, not the little grey cells, that have to be built and maintained. They are the key to health and happiness (within limits, of course.) And they don’t grow or do their jobs properly unless they’re programmed (through your choices) to shrink the gaps in the calculus of your own consciousness.
The harder you make your brain work to build connections, the stronger your foundation for lifelong learning and committed relationships. Since time-based material such as history makes your brain work harder than any other topic, the study of history throughout primary, junior, and middle school makes an excellent foundation for everything else. Everything else is a piece of cake compared to mastering the human sense of time.
Empathy flows from an ability to work with time. So does memory. So does an inner sense of self. The parts of ourselves that we cherish the most are built on our relationships with time. If we want to find the peace we long for, we can’t do it by escaping from time (that is, by detaching from our emotions and trying to live in the moment with no regard for past or future). We can only do it by being part of time, being part of life, by accepting our rights and also our responsibilities as children of God, by being grateful for what the past has taught us, but also being grateful for the life we live today, and the life we will live tomorrow.
Wherever the Spiral Path may take us.
I want to thank the people who have helped me in the past few years as I’ve meandered along my own journey of discovery and healing. I want to thank my son for his most amazing support in all ways a mother could hope for. I want to thank my parents, sister, niece, and aunt. I know my path has been puzzling to you, but thank you for loving me anyway. I also want to thank my friends Mary Ellen, Keatha, and Janet, who helped me even when they didn’t realize they were helping me.
I dedicate this book to Jamie and to the memory of Iain and Beckie.
Blessings to you all!
*For more details, please see the post entitled The Human Sense of Time & Timing.