Given the swirl of current events, taking a month to explore wisdom might seem overdue. It might also seem like a fool’s errand. Yet, here we go.
Wisdom, like many other things, can feel like something we either do or don’t have. If we don’t have it, we imagine we might acquire it through age or experience or both. For me though, and with much gratitude to my Theme Team partners (Elizabeth Collard, Rex Nelson, Elizabeth Stamberger, and Valerie Stone), I think of wisdom as something we live into, a practice, if you will.
Some years ago, a member of JUC told me of a book of which I had never heard, a not uncommon occurrence. “The Book of Qualities” is author J. Ruth Gendler’s effort to animate and personify different human qualities from worry and whimsy to stillness and service. Each one through Gendler’s pen becomes a living breathing character. Wisdom is no exception. Wisdom, she writes, “learned to be alone with herself at an early age.” For that reason, she has a quiet mind and looks not for answers, but to “the edges where things spill into each other.”
Wisdom, then, is an invitation into the deep. The place where knowledge mingles with experience. Where truth and integrity get reacquainted and risk becomes an available option. Compassion is no longer a stranger, but the seed bed of how we begin to see self and others. To know wisdom, is to practice making space for humility where what we know and what we don’t can dance as equals and the intelligence of our emotions and bodies is honored.
Somehow it is a remembering and a reconnecting with the deepest place in us that knows what it knows. That place that Reinhold Neibuhr pointed at in his prayer for serenity: “Grant me serenity to know the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” In wisdom, we practice discernment available at all ages and stages.
How fitting then that this month we again have the children’s music service. Witnessing the wisdom of our children is always a gift.
Outside of Sunday, we offer multiple ways of exploring wisdom through Full Week Faith. I am also offering a three week session on Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility.”