I want to tell you something funny about trying to write about Wisdom.
(I’ve been trying to do just that because “A People of Wisdom” is our March Soul Matters theme!)
Here’s what I’ve discovered…
In trying to write about wisdom, all I could come up with was the most schmaltzy and trite stuff ever! I think it’s because trying to write about Wisdom-with-a-capital-W means trying to be Wise. And being wise just isn’t something we can effort our way into.
Wisdom is not the same as knowledge; it’s not the same as being clever, (though some of us are definitely wisecrackers!) And it’s not a prize we win, like getting good grades in school.
Some say wisdom is a function of experience – but just living longer doesn’t guarantee it.
I think Wisdom just kind of sneaks up on us.
And in this time of listening to wisdom from the medical experts, and government experts like the Centers for Disease Control so we can “flatten the curve” of the transmission of COVID-19, wisdom is taking on new meanings every day. Challenging meanings, like “stay home, avoid touching people you love to hug when you see them out in the world — but stay connected…” Yes. And at UUCW we urge you to listen to all that wisdom – and we’re working on those “virtual” and online connection processes. Because our Wisdom says that Love is core to who we are as human beings, and as Unitarian Universalists!!
So – back when I originally wrote this column, there were FIVE awesome, non-trite things I wanted to share with you about Wisdom:
- Wise persons get more out of failing than they do from succeeding. They talk less and listen more than do un-wise persons.
- Though they know a lot and have experienced much, wise folks continue to doubt themselves — they don’t believe they are always right. And the truly wise remind us that arrogance and wisdom cannot coexist in one person.
- In fact, a wise person once said, “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” (Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin) He’s correct — wisdom, and the life quest that lays the path toward it, helps us cultivate compassion and kindness.
- You would think that silliness or foolishness would be the opposite of wisdom, but according to scholars of religion, there’s even a kind of crazy wisdom! It’s called divine madness or holy foolishness, and is a kind of outrageous behavior enacted in the service of enlightenment. For example, the 6th-century saint, Simeon, was known to walk through town dragging a dead dog roped to his leg! People were shocked, but to Simeon, the dead dog represented the baggage people were carrying in their spiritual lives. The 9th century Zen poet Han-shan was another crazy-wise man. When asked about Zen, Han-shan would simply laugh hysterically.
- Ultimately, wisdom is paradoxical. It’s a seed within each of us, but none of us knows exactly how or when it will take root and sprout. And when it blooms, it may not be what we expect!
I send you my deep caring, and I look forward to seeing you online soon.
Blessings to you,
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Minister