Friday, 21 August 2015

Vicar's Sofa – Wisdom in YOUR Day

I have a dream one day. A happy little vision of myself as I near the end of my days which, knowing me, is probably dramatically unlikely but makes me smile nonetheless. In my mind I can see myself as a lady of good years, long hair plaited and grey, sitting with hands folded as I rock gently back and forth in an old wooden rocking chair. I'll be peaceful, happy, smiling and....wise. Able to nod sagely in conversation because of all I have picked up over the years. Ahhh...I wish!
Woman in A Rocking Chair - Renoir
This little image is something of a word picture for another approach to wisdom that you can pick up in the pages of the Bible which has also been the approach of the many, many civilizations around the world where people have turned their hand to wisdom writing. Observation, living, the 'University of Life' as it were - this approach to gaining of wisdom is all about the every day.

I love the book of Proverbs in the Bible because much of it appears to have been drawn from folk traditions, the real people who lived all those years ago in those sun scorched lands. The sayings are about real things. About how you approach work, how you raise your kids, it is a philosophy for life that has a bearing on what your days are like right now.

Proverbs is like one big great collection of wisdom gathered from a nation. It's all the things your Grandma told you that you really wish you had written down. These are a few of my favourites:

'The wise heart is called perspective, and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness' Prov 16:21

'A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity' Proverbs17:17

'Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves hurriedly misses the way' Prov 19:2

All this is not to say that you can simply pick up ancient ideas about life and apply then directly to modern life, there are some rather questionable approaches to disciplining children in the book of Proverbs, but there is much that stands the test of time. And the principle remains that wisdom involves learning from one another in our communities as well as listening to the past, drawing down into the deep well of our heritage and history to encourage and inspire our lives today.

The wisdom traditions of the world have quite happily borrowed from each other in this enterprise, swapping ideas as they swapped spices along the trade routes. The wisdom literature of the Bible carries influences and sometimes direct borrowing from Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Greece to name a few. They took the insights of others and adapted them, seeing them through their own cultural and religious lens, but valuing the insights of others.

What a great example to us today when we have the huge privilege of being part of a world where we have such ready access to other cultures and religions and all the wisdom they contain. Seeking Wisdom is a generous task and wisdom can be the enterprise of anyone and everyone. In fact the view from where someone else is standing may be just the thing we need to enrich our own.

So, there is a huge amount to commend in this approach to gaining wisdom. Observing, wondering, exploring the world and sharing this generously and open heartedly. Sounds great, doesn't it?

To catch up with previous posts in the series on 'What is Wisdom?' and 'Wisdom and the Natural world', get clicking! :)

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