Is it possible that the innate wisdom I believe we all have within us is set free once we realize that: a) there will always be more we don’t know than we do, and, b) finally all the things we think we can control are simply an illusion we maintain believing it will bring us peace? There’s a start to a happy-clappy blog! I do believe we all have a wisdom that is a part of the Imago Dei, the Image of God, in which we all are born. It is a desire to grow deeper even as the world tempts us with surface level understanding, and a sense that there is a more spiritual realm of which we catch glimpses even as the world tempts us to believe in the horizontal and flat more than the vertical and the whole.
I’m certain you’ve known your share of wise ones – at least I hope we all have. They are all around us if we’re willing to pause and listen and see and feel and learn. It’s the one that sees through our masks and asks the harder question. It’s the one that listens to our sad stories of failure and asks us what we’ve learned that might help another. It’s the one that we know has been through sorrow and sadness of their own who has allowed those struggles to grow a vulnerable courage to reach out to others and walk beside them in patient acceptance for however long their journey takes. I know we’ve all met them. They help us to laugh at ourselves without condemnation rather than making fun of others to mask our insecurities. They challenge us to become stronger by acknowledging our weaknesses in an authentic humility that is invitational to true relationship. They have moved past the need for everyone to be like them, for others to value the same things they value, to see the world the same way they see it. Wise ones have a maturity that allows for responding rather than reacting, a calmness in the midst of chaos, and a joy that moves among the frustrations keeping a perspective that grows in generosity and grace.
Maybe wisdom is more an idea or an ideal than a reality – and yet I truly do believe we catch glimpses of it in ourselves sometimes, and in those around us whose voices are more calmly sure than shrill. And I think wisdom is more tortoise than hare, more journey than destination, more daily unnoticed practice than ESPN highlight reel. Sometimes we all wish for the shortcut to that wise place. We want to get there without hanging in on the tough days, without doing the right things when no one is watching, without enduring in serving others when the temptation is most deeply to focus on self, and a recognition there is time and blessing for both.
None of us really knows what will be required of us during our lifetimes – the situations we will face that may ask more than we believe we have to give. The promise of our faith is that when those moments arrive, as they do for all of us, we will have the resources we need from a deep reservoir that comes from living in and with a faith community with the perfectly imperfect and learning to love others and allow others to love us into our best selves, and forgive and be forgiven when it doesn’t quite work.
I’m humbled in my life today by the wise ones I have known, the wise ones I know now, and the wise ones I know God has yet in store for me to meet. I seek to learn from their knowledge – both spoken and unspoken; to be changed by their humility and deep joy; and to allow the gifts of their spirit to invade my own.
I wax philosophic this day as I start the road west to help celebrate my parents 65th wedding anniversary. Sorry mom and dad, now a few more people know. 65 years ago when they got married at the age of 5 snort they didn’t know their house would burn down with every last thing they owned but a chair and a small file cabinet; they didn’t know they’d have one daughter who would marry a farmer, become a teacher, and give them two good-lookin’ grandsons, and the other daughter who wouldn’t but would become an ordained pastor; they didn’t know my dad would be a farmer and a corporate pilot or that when given the choice to move off the farm the mom and two girls would convince their husband/dad to put the new house right back out on the farm on a road to nowhere. They didn’t know both daughters would be stubborn and headstrong and opinionated (duh – we didn’t get that way without DNA), and that the kindness and generosity with which we saw them live would become the foundation out of which we each would seek to live our lives (albeit imperfectly) in our own families and respective professions. They didn’t know they’d hit the farm crisis in the ‘80’s and that having family to walk through it with would make all the difference. They didn’t know that my youngest uncle and two of my cousins would pass into God’s eternal presence before the rest of us, and that through that reality we would grow closer to one another and more honest with who we are and what we believe. Frankly they didn’t know they’d live til their 65th wedding anniversary, but here they are and here we are and maybe the possibility of wisdom comes from reflecting on what life in God has given us and what we’ve done with the gift.
So happy ‘versary, moom and dude – your hard-won wisdom has made a difference in me and in my much, much older seester, snort and we celebrate the life you continue to live! Bring on the fried chicken and cream gravy ‘cause I’m comin’ home!