Still Learning After All These Years

"Still learning after all these years" by Laura Nelson (

Image credit:, (2018), CC0/PD

Clifford and I have been together for nearly ten years. I thought I knew everything about him. How he sounds. All of his quirks. The great things about him and the not-so-great. Neither one of us are in the shape we were in when we first met but I think we’re both ok with that. And then, recently, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. Something about Clifford that had been there all the time but that I had never noticed … an adjustment lever for the steering wheel. You see, Clifford is my minivan (aka Clifford, the Big Red Van). We’ve been together for many years and many miles. In fact, we’ve been together for well over 100 thousand miles and both of us are still in (pretty) good shape.

But the other day, when I was looking for something in the car , I bent down near the driver’s seat to see if the missing item was there. That’s when I saw a small notch and what looked like a lever underneath my steering column. It was an adjustment for the steering column that I hadn’t noticed for 8 years! I started to wonder what else I had missed. Did my van have other unknown capabilities that had been unused all these years? Right under my nose? Suddenly, I was keenly aware of my van and my poor observation skills.

So, I started to think, where else in my life have I been blind to what’s in front of me? In what other areas of my life have I mistakenly thought I had nothing else to learn? That’s when the Mass and Holy Scripture came to mind. Instead of a clear conscience, I found more blind spots.

How many of us who have been Catholic for years, perhaps even for our entire lives, have taken the Mass for granted and assumed that there was nothing else for us to learn? After all, we know the prayers. We know the structure. We know about the Eucharist, right? Or maybe it’s the reading from Scripture that you’ve heard countless times. It’s so familiar that it’s easy to tune out and not notice the depth, wisdom, and love that’s right in front of our eyes.

After the slice of humble pie I ate with my van “discovery,” I decided that I couldn’t take the Mass or the Bible for granted. I no longer allow myself to think that I have squeezed all the knowledge and meaning out of either. Because, if it took me 8 years to notice a feature on my car that comes standard in pretty much every car sold in the U.S., how long will it take me to see one of the beautiful moments in the Mass or gain insight on a Scripture passage that I’ve heard since I was a child?

This Lent, I’m going to use my former oblivious state as motivation to be more present, focused, and observant when I participate in the Mass and when I read or listen to a reading from the Bible. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something new …

Copyright 2020 Laura Nelson


About Author

Laura B. Nelson is a Catholic wife and mother of three children. She is also a Catholic blogger, author, speaker, teacher and life-long student of the Catholic faith. Laura likes to be busy but she most enjoys spending time with her husband and three children at their home in Grapevine, TX. Visit her blogs at Green for God and Suburban Sainthood.

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