© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved
Knowledge to know when to and when not to:
keep your mouth shut, walk away,
step forward, speak up,
duck, dodge, bend, jump, run:
these are all marks of wisdom.
Some have enough intelligence to add up
a column of numbers,
or reprogram a computer,
but seem to spend much of their time
trying to get feet out of mouths.
Some pray without ceasing for
peace/change/needs but never quite seem
to do anything other than pray,
while talking/acting/voting in ways that do not help.
Some claim to have faith in a God of power and might
and all comfort, yet live in fear of life itself.
Wisdom is knowing the difference between
can and can’t, possibility and probability, faith and fear,
and the unique subtleties found in the concept of hope.
Wisdom comes long after we think we know everything,
when we finally understand
the immense space to be discovered within the
time and distance and silence
that grace occupies
within our hearts.
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Wisdom is hard won. I would like to think that in my years I have attained some of it, but now and again I do something that lets me know that I have not got it quite yet. And yet I have come to understand that when I remember to just let myself be alive, not try to be larger than life, and just sort of float on the sea of grace that God has created within me, I do just fine in the wisdom department.
Wisdom is not so much about what and how we are, but about who we are. I’m not writing about appearances here, or how we perceive others perceive us. I am writing about the “us” that is at the heart and soul of our knee-jerk reactions. This is to say, what mode is it that you default to when stress, bad stuff, tragedy, the worst-case-scenario happens? Do you jump straight into your fight mode? Do you duck-and-cover? Is fear, and a sick feeling in the pit of your gut, where you go? Or do you go straight to a place where you can sense the grace flooding into the situation—where you know that there is more than whatever just happened at work?
For me, wisdom is knowing there are things to be done, and knowing that we can be part of the doing. Our faith allows God’s grace to filter into whatever is going on in our lives and facilitate a positive solution. This is not to say all will be just sweet and lovely with no pain, but that through whatever is happening, God’s will will prevail.
In this sense I am gaining wisdom. I remember my father once telling me that since he turned his life over to God, he had never worried about the outcome of any bad thing that might be happening to him or his family. At the time I was too young to understand what he was implying. Theologically we were usually at odds. He a Fundamentalist Christian. Me, a Liberal everything. Yet, as I have grown, in spirit, in my theology, and in wisdom (?) I have gained some understanding as to his meaning.
He knew. He actually knew that God was at work—in his life, the lives around him, and in the world in which he lived. He believed this. He trusted this with his life. He once told me that he did not believe in miracles. When I said, “HUH?” He said that these things seem like miracles to us, but they are just the everyday workings of God, and as such we can simply know that God will do what God will do on an everyday, regular, even casual, basis. This is the kind of grace in which we can place our trust. It is also a place that grows and nurtures wisdom. The place where God is at work in us.
Sometimes we just need to be clear that wisdom is not actually about us, but about intelligence. Not ours, but God’s. The question is, and always is, will we choose to trust the intelligence of God working within us, or will we just go on reacting to life’s happenings as we always have? I’m going to try for a little wisdom, myself.
# # #
Proverbs 8:1-4 & 22-31 — New Revised Standard Version
Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.