The Old Soul
October 16, 2011From where does wisdom come? Is it born in the depths of suffering? Does it rise up out of imagination and possibility? Who has it and who does not? Does wisdom have value for the world today, or are we beyond wisdom, plumbing some other depth? Can we be beyond wisdom and find peace? Such questions fill my heart this day. Wisdom arose as genre of literature in the Hebrew Scriptures at the time of the Exile. The attempt to explain suffering was met in the voice of wisdom that did not so much offer answers, but rather the dynamic of consideration and question, a paradoxical holding, a resting in mystery. Sometimes wisdom is granted to the old. The sages among us speak calmly and wisely having learned life lessons that hold them together in body and spirit and keep them at the task of living. They simply know that thing - akin to answer - and trust what is beyond this life that overarches all that is temporal, that thing which transcends the machinations of human activity and works to something eternal and glorious in God. Sometimes wisdom is lost in the aging process. There are, in fact, many old people who do not bear wisdom. Some grow old jaded, embittered by the life lessons that could have honed wisdom and polished soul. Sometimes it is the young who bear wisdom most meaningfully. Young people who exhibit wisdom are called "old souls." In Buddhism, such a life would represent having gone through many iterations, passing through the waters and finding growth in multiple experiences. One incarnation is enough for Christians, one life that is connected deeply to that pool of knowing from which wisdom is dipped. Some apparently are born with this connection. Like Mattie Stepanek whose six books of poetry mark the magnificence of wisdom to the world and peace in the old soul. If children and all the rest of creation live the wisdom that survives and transcends pain and suffering, why would you and I struggle so to live from such a place? Could it be that I struggle too much for resolution to my concerns? Am I too agitated in the near and called to live more in the far? Even in the destruction of the storm, green plants are returning in the cracks of the walls around me. They are teaching me that life is forward, never backward. And life is confident around me. How deeply wise. A recent edition of Weavings magazine explores the topic of Widsom offering wonderful insights for those who seek. The most important quote from the book to me continues to speak to me. Robert Corin Morris writes, "True delight in God's ways sometimes comes only after the discomfiting loss of various forms of ignorance, illusion, and innocence. Looked at this way, disillusionment can be seen as an event of purifying grace, an open door toward wisdom." When I think I am far from God and God's will, when I think I am alone, when I begin to feel disillusionment and disenchantment with what is, if I hold up the feeling to the light that is Christ, it does become doorway to grace and entry to wisdom. God is working overtime in this old soul and I give thanks. Amen.