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02 September 2011

Fresh paths

Fresh paths

As the summer is drawing to a close, a new season dawns. For some it will have a hallmark of newness: first day at school, freshers' week, new class, new rota. New places to go, new fears to conquer and new opportunities to look out for.   

For others it means going 'back' to the well-known rhythms. Back to work, the school run, the drawing board of job applications, back to the same problems, the same people and the same roles. Back on the tramlines - what's new about that? 

"People say 'I'm taking it one day at a time.'

You know what? So is everybody. That's how time works."  

Many a truth is said in jest. Hannibal Buress' above joke came third in the top 10 best jokes at this year's Edinburgh Fringe festival. Besides hosting the annual celebration of comedy, arts, and literature, the city also hosted the International Television Festival. It was the first time that the prestigious MacTaggart lecture was given by someone not principally involved in television broadcasting or production. How good to invite new perspectives. There's power in the 'margins'. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, rightly dominated many of the headlines this weekend, ranging from the British education system and media regulation, to TV and internet convergence. 

My attention was drawn towards his challenge to "return to a 'Victorian' age of bringing science and arts together". Deploring the current boxed approach of various disciplines, Schmidt gave credit to the creative genius of Steve Jobs: "an artist's eye as well as a definition of what great engineering is". Similarly, in his high profile resignation as CEO of Apple, Jobs ascribed the success of the Mac to a synergy of multiple talents, "because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets and historians who also happened to be excellent computer scientists".. 

We do well to listen to such giants of innovation. Whether we enter a new season not so much depends on the calendar, but mainly on whether we start new conversations, ask new questions, forge new links, listen to new sounds, create new patterns and ask new people to crash our parties.  

Leave the tramlines - it's biblical. Blessed are those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5). In his beautiful poem The Road Not Travelled, Robert Frost reflects

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less travelled by,

and that has made all the difference 

Even when the route ahead is seemingly familiar, the time can still be opportune. When Joshua went round the walls of the city for the seventh day for the seventh time, he was listening out for a new sound. And that attentiveness made the 'same old' trajectory new. For, the circling was set in the context of a promise. The city would be devoted to God.  

May He who makes everything new renew your school run, academic year, your work and worklessness, your home and your mind. May the eyes of our heart be enlightened so that we may know the hope to which He has called us and may choose the road in that light.  

He will make all the difference.

Marijke Hoek, coordinator Forum for Change