John's Peak and Teaching

John's Peak and Teaching

Today I took a day off work and went walking.

I teach the opening two weeks for each new cohort of fellows at LMI. I always emerge from these weeks feeling emotionally raw. Teaching stretches me between an agony of inadequacy that I can't convey the beauty, scope, and effect of what I want to teach and a sense of the necessity that I try. To borrow from Reepicheep the mouse: Every day I paddle as hard as I can toward Aslan's country, and every day I sink. On my best days, with my nose to the East.

John's peak is the tallest peak reachable by walking track within the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, South-east of Canberra. There are taller peaks in the reserve, and much taller peaks in the surrounding Namadgi National Park, but John's has a great track and stunning views. It's a 15km round trip, mostly on fire trail, with a hard rock scrabble at the end when ascending the peak.

In my class, I want to convey a way of thinking—what I'm starting to call a 'figural imagination'. Often I feel like a stranger in a foreign city street trying to get a message across in broken pidgin. Madly pointing my finger, occasionally lapsing into ecstatic nonsense through sheer frustration, jabbing with expression at something painfully there but yet to come to the shared space of understanding.

The John's peak trail starts from the Mountain Creek Car Park. It follows a fire trail that also leads to the Camel's Hump walk. There are some steep gradients early on and the whole track doesn't give much respite from climbing. After the first two kilometres, there are frequent, excellent views over the Murrumbidgee River valley, Limestone Plains, and Canberra.  

I want my life and leadership to reflect that what I'm madly seeking to point out is real. I want you to come with me to the peak and see the view. I want to teach with seriousness, not playing games with concepts and either/or-ing. Each day I'm on display—my own passions and weaknesses under the examination of the students. I fail to know what I should know. I fail to convey. Gallingly, I sin against them. And they see it all. As painful as it is, I want to welcome that scrutiny, even with all the flaws and wounds that get probed. This is the calling. When I fail, the call is to fail instructively, in the open, and in dependence on grace.

But by the end of it, I really need a bit of time to go for a walk.

The course that I teach involves close study of John's Gospel together. I taught the gospel, I climbed the peak. There is glory there—enough to keep a teacher hard-scrabbling and stretching out to say we have seen it.

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