Rev. Wayne Walder: Can You Learn Wisdom?

Wayne playing Native American wooden flute at ancient cave

by Reverend Wayne Walder

Wisdom, why bother? Isn’t it hard enough to work our days and sleep our nights? Isn’t it enough to work during the days and relax with a few hours of T.V. or a Youtube video and laugh for a while? Who has time to read and study wisdom? Often wisdom is paradoxical, it comes in poems and parables. It is hard to understand and even harder to enact. Complex programs, elaborate spiritual disciplines and difficult-to-read books make us wonder if wisdom is for us. Yet …

What is Wisdom? Certainly it is not intelligence. We all know people who use information and knowledge to impress and manipulate. Information alone is not wisdom. The poet Rumi claims that intuition is not wisdom either. He pokes fun at someone who has vast powers of intuition but cannot offer water to a thirsty friend. It is not even simply accepting who we are either. Some of us can use a little polish when it comes to wisdom.

Can you learn Wisdom? Where do you go to learn how to be wise? Is it something you can learn? Often we wonder how to make sense of the world and our place in it. We hope that wisdom can help us connect to ourselves and the lives around us, but how? Many of us have gone to the most spiritual places in the world and not found wisdom. Others have sat quietly for days in spiritual retreat and not found it either.

But … what if you can learn wisdom? What if wisdom is all around us? What if it is not so hard? What if wisdom simply requires us to use what we know, where it is needed? What if wisdom is taught by listening to that quiet voice we hear in silence and matching it with the day-to-day rhythms of our lives? We recognize wisdom in nature, compassion, silence and the models of others who seem to know it. We get a sense that “wisdom” is a pleasure to practice when we see others use it. We notice how wisdom often fits into situations without words, but with kindness and experience. We notice wisdom when we are open to need, to our experience, to the future, to our commonality. It comes from the place that calls us to become our best selves. It comes from the place asking us to build the common good.

Buddha sat under a Bodhi tree to “get it”; Jesus went into the desert; Mohammed into a cave for safety and clarity; Mother Teresa asked a leper; Black Elk found it in a dream; Martin Luther King found it in church … and Nelson Mandela in jail. We can find and learn it!

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