Serenity prayer: . . . and the wisdom to know the difference

A mighty oak

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7

“Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and chose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha

Do you seek wisdom? I do – at least I give it the all American college effort. I often ask what is wisdom. How will I know when I am wise? Will people seek my counsel especially those younger than me? Will I eventually know everything about everything? What is wisdom and how do we know we have it?

I often share this story with young people. When I was 18 years old, I thought my father was by far, the dumbest man on the planet. I mean he knew nothing about life and being 18. I, of course, knew EVERYTHING at the age of 18 and shared it often with my father. But, by the time I turned 21, he had learned so much! Seriously though, my father had a quiet way about him and I was never quite sure what he was thinking but I knew he was one smart cookie. He was educated well in an all boys Jesuit high school in the 1930s. He received the equivalent of a college prep/honors education which included two years of Greek, four years of Latin, calculus, college level English, and physics. The man could add, multiply and divide columns of numbers in his head which served to distance us further when I brought home “new math” homework which I didn’t understand and neither did he.

My father died at the age of 66 when I was 27. There was a significant age difference between him and my mother that in some ways may have contributed to the distance I felt. I feel I was just starting to get to know him as a person. If you’ve experienced it, you know it’s that point when you realize your parents are just two human beings trying to do the best they can – just like you. You see them as real. Maybe that is the beginning of wisdom – being able to see parents, teachers and adults you thought were superheroes as fellow human beings on this big blue ball in space who are trying to make sense of it all like you. It’s taking me years to understand what was evolving in my late 20’s. Maybe that is wisdom.

Maybe wisdom is not a magical mystical “thing” I’ll acquire when I get old. I ask for wisdom in my prayer “Divine Mystery, help me to know the difference between those things I can’t change and those things I can”. I’ve blogged previously about the parts of the prayer – accepting what I cannot change https://listening-heart.com/2019/01/12/the-serenity-prayer-accepting-what-i-cannot-change/ and changing what I can https://listening-heart.com/2019/02/02/the-serenity-prayer-changing-what-i-can/ Now I pray for wisdom. I ask for that insight, that knowledge, that knowing in my heart.

What is wisdom? The Greek word is sophia, a feminine noun. I like the idea of wisdom having more feminine qualities. In my prayer, I invite Sophia into my mind and heart and into my space of reflection and meditation. She teaches me and helps me grow in understanding. She nurtures me as a mother nurtures a child. Sometimes her lessons are not easy. I stumble and skin my emotional knee and her “tsk-tsk” shames me but Sophia is there to pick me up and urge me to do better. With her gentleness and compassion I am invited again and again to choose her way – the Wisdom Way.

Earthenware from area of the Dead Sea scrolls

Here are some questions you may wish to sit in meditation with, write about or be creative with (drawing, painting, collage, etc.) What is wisdom? What does it mean to be wise? Where do you find wisdom? Who are your wisdom figures and wisdom teachers? Do you believe you are wise? How do you seek wisdom? What is your prayer for wisdom?

 Where do you find yourself calling upon Sophia? How do you choose wisdom? For what do you long for and seek when you call upon Sophia/Wisdom? Search your current life situation. Where is it that you most need Sophia’s guidance?

Blessings always. Peace and all good,

Christy

(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction or companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual direction, or your faith community or small group would like to experience group spiritual direction, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)


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