Wisdom, Like When …
What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were born then, you have lived so many years! – Job 38:19-21 (NIV)
There’s wisdom that comes with growing old. I know because I’m doing it, and I do think I’m wiser about some things now. Like the fact that nothing lasts: not your waistline or your hairline or your bottom line or your brother’s bad marriage. Like that it’s best to deal with things directly and soon: nothing solves itself by neglect. Like things not being a worthy substitute for love. Like you really can’t do everything.
But age doesn’t guarantee wisdom, especially when it comes to the ego. Mine still thinks it’s the center of the universe and in charge of it. Still thinks it knows what’s best. Still feels certain of its opinions. Still needs you to share them. Still bristles when contradicted. Still thinks it has (or can Google) an answer to everything.
All of which is demonstrably false and laughable, and which I know to be so. At least in fleeting moments. Like when I step out under the vast sky at night. Like when I wake up in the wee hours and understand that I will die, sooner now than ever. Like when I’m sitting by the lake in the sharpness of dawn, and a moose comes crashing through the woods, wades out knee-deep, and stands stock still for what seems like hours, majestically alive without my aid. Like when I open my mouth to sing the hymn and all that emerges is a choke of tears.
No one is like you. Teach me that, and I will be wise.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.