"Pursue knowledge your whole life. Ask God to show you truth and wisdom." For SRCS students, this particular core value perhaps seems superfluous. Students are engaged in the pursuit of knowledge daily and are regularly encouraged to seek the wisdom that only God can give. Though it has implications for the here and now, this core value specifically looks forward to a time when school days are left behind.
When I think about the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom over a lifetime, I think of my friend Peggy.
Peggy is 92 years old. Just a few years after her husband passed away, she moved from Citrus County to be closer to family in Georgia. Because of persistent health issues, Peggy lives in a home where 24-hour care is available. My friend Leslie and I have made a tradition of traveling to see her when our schedule and Peggy’s makes it possible —she is a very popular lady who often spends time at her son’s home or is out on the town with her daughter or grandchildren who come to visit.
When we arrive in Valdosta and make our way to Peggy’s room, the scene is always the same. She greets us with an excited smile (sometimes upon waking from a nap in her dark blue recliner). Outside of her window is a bird feeder that her family keeps stocked so that she has plenty of daytime visitors. She also has a TV set, but I have yet to see it on.
What stands out most are her books. Peggy is a reader. She loves all kinds of books, but especially mysteries. She reads C.S. Lewis, Ayn Rand, G. K. Chesterton, and Nelson DeMille. In her small bedroom, she has not one, but two bookshelves. Next to her blue chair, on the floor and on her nightstand, the books she is working on surround her. These days, her favorite are in large print.
Visits with Peggy are fun. She tells stories about her husband, Skeet. She asks intently about her friends from church and how they are doing, often recalling the names of not only peers, but young children in the church whom she has not seen for years. She dialogues about current events, family visits, and long-ago memories.
Peggy has aches and pains. She misses her husband very much. But Peggy has pursued knowledge her whole life, and it has brought her many rewards. Because she continues to learn and grow, she is content. Her books allow her to continue to travel the world and to see new things without leaving her room. One of the biggest benefits to Peggy’s reading is her quick wit. It's as sharp as ever, and catches you off guard. Whenever we visit Peggy, I find myself hoping that I will grow older as gracefully and as surrounded by books as she has.
The emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge for a lifetime is distinctive in a world that sometimes values only the fastest and most efficient way to a degree or a career path. We want our students to see knowledge as a thing worth pursuing well after our degrees are framed and hanging on the wall. Like Peggy, we want them to become convinced that continued pursuit of learning keeps us fresh, and allows education, work, and even old age to be enjoyed rather than endured.