Cheese, Yoda and Colossians - All School Chapel

Okay so I have been deep in thought pondering so many things over the past few months. However, over the last few weeks I have been finding my thoughts going back to a few key topics….CHEESE, YODA, and COLOSSIANS.

So, cheese. Yes, it is a yummy treat. One of my favorites actually. It is this very fact that drives the importance here.

A book that I read in the late 1990s was “Who Moved My Cheese” by legendary business philosopher Dr. Spencer Johnson. I have used this book for years as an allegory for change and innovation.

This book is a short, light-hearted parable about change and how different people process change. It follows the physical and emotional journeys of four characters
 – Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw – 
who  showed up every day at the same spot where they’d always found cheese to eat. Then one day – literally overnight – their cheese wasn’t there. Not a crumb. OMG! Sounding familiar?

Two of the characters continued their former cheese-acquisition practices and kept returning to the old spot, even though no cheese was ever found there again. You can imagine what happened to them. The other two immediately accepted that things had changed – the cheese plan was never going to be the same. And so, they set off in search of the new place where cheese might be found.

Notice that the last two characters didn’t go looking for new cheese. They looked for the new place where they could find cheese. Consequently, they survived because they adapted to change that first revealed itself as adversity. Oh, by the way, it turns out that the cheese in the new place was better than the old stuff. 

I don’t mean to tell you that Dr. Johnson’s story is the ultimate answer to teaching during a pandemic or challenging times, however, I do believe it has never been more relevant and powerful. This pandemic has really moved our cheese!!

Going forward – post-pandemic – there will be two kinds of people: 
1) those that will fail to accept that this August will look different than last August, etc.; and 
2) the kind that will survive and thrive, because they accept that their opportunities are different, unique, and in some cases may even be better

So after I indulged in my cheese fix, I found myself pondering the Cosmic Life Coach to my generation...YODA
Do you remember this guy? Small long-eared, green, wrinkly Jedi Master who gave advice to those that would listen. And even the way he speaks with the object-subject-verb order spoken by few languages makes you want to listen and pay attention. “Much to Learn, you still have” Wow, that is true. When Luke Skywalker meets Yoda on a swampy planet in the Empire Strikes Back he said, “You need to train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Why? Because “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

This is powerful cosmic advice, especially during a pandemic. It is all too easy to focus on our fears, rather than how we might confront our challenges. Focusing on our fear leads to resentment that leads to loneliness that leads to sadness and despair. Rather, if we use our hearts and minds to tell a story of hope it will lead to grace, positivity, support and so much more.

  1. "Do or do not. There is no try."
This quote is a simple lesson in commitment and the power in giving something our all—not just giving it a try.

  1. "You must unlearn what you have learned."
As creatures of habit, we tend to love our routines and our go-to methods. But sometimes, we have to shake up our process—and even unlearn our process—to succeed.

  1. "Named must be your fear before banish it you can."
When we call out our fears directly, they become less of an ominous force and a challenge we can tackle head-on.

  1. "The greatest teacher, failure is."
We learn from our mistakes—plain and simple.

  1. "Pass on what you have learned."
The wisdom we gain in life is a gift to pass along—not to keep to ourselves. The power of the group only works when we share.

So lastly, I like many of you have been seeking meaning in all of struggle and strife. In seeking Scriptural guidance, I was quickly reminded of the apostle Paul and his calling others to prepare for an uncertain future of the church. You might recall that Christianity was threatened as the Colossians lost direction and faith. Yeah, like the whole thing. The Colossians were engaged with false teachings, lack of trust, hopelessness, and anger that all tainted their understanding. 
Paul was very direct and clear to them about the dangers. Paul’s charge to believers of AD 61 remains applicable to us today. His timeless leadership principles are what we must use to prepare ourselves for an uncertain future. Paul advised the Colossians to stop being distracted and focus on core values, such as fellowship, accountability, truth, and prayer
Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

In our time of uncertainty, we would be wise to consider this advice and lean on the truth. We can have certainty that God created this school...All Saints Episcopal School, our vision, and this team for a reason. He didn’t overlook a pandemic or troubling times. On the contrary he placed us here to lead through it. We need to stay focused on His truth, our mission and the work ahead.

So whether you feel like your cheese was moved, or that fear has taken root in you, or maybe there has been a period of feeling lost. We have clear answers about how to lead and how to have an abundant existence even during a global pandemic.