For the past seven weeks in worship, we’ve been considering – “Ways of Wisdom” – thinking of Wisdom as “ways of living that lead to more life.” For my own reflection, I put together a summary of the ground we covered. I noticed that each week, we also encountered a spiritual practice we could give a try. I thought I’d put that all in one place and share it – as together, we seek a spirituality we can use in our everyday lives.
What follows is a summary of the series, and then a list of the practices.
“Ways of Wisdom” Summary
Wisdom is a seeking together for ways of living that lead to more life.
The beginning of Wisdom is not knowing – standing before something bigger than us, and saying, “I don’t know.”
That’s the beginning of Wisdom, but Wisdom doesn’t leave us there. From that point of not-knowing, Wisdom points us toward learning. God has created us to learn together – with each other and with God (who is always present).
One of the ways that we do this is by sharing the Wisdom we have learned down through the generations: One generation wraps up the Wisdom they have learned and passes it along as a gift to the generations that follow – ready for them to open when they need it, and to bring it to life in their moment.
Embodied in the lives we live and grounded in our identity in Christ, Wisdom points us to an action/reflection model for learning:
1. reflecting on the life we live with God and each other in this world (“a long loving look at the real”);
3. living it out.
We live that out in the work we do in the world – our vocations, our professions, in the work of family and community.
Wisdom also cautions us to consider the life we live through our speech. God has created us in the image of God, and created us with the creative power of speech – the power to bless or to curse. The beginning of finding our way to speech may be silence, perhaps testing our words before we speak: “Is the word that is emerging in me apt, and timely, and needed?” (question adapted from the Quaker practice of discernment in a Clearness Committee)
Ultimately, “Wisdom is more a WHO, than a WHAT.”
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Woman Wisdom rises off the page of Scripture inviting us to live into ways of living that lead to life. And when Woman Wisdom does, she smashes through the confines of patriarchy (and other systems of oppression) and invites us into a more expansive, freer world.
In the New Testament, Wisdom is embodied in Jesus – “the Wisdom and power of God.” The Wisdom of God turns the wisdom of the world on its head. The Wisdom of God is embodied in Jesus and in a community that stands with those whose backs are up against a wall – in ways of living that lead to more life for all people.
Wisdom Practices/Spirituality You Can Use:
1. When you come to that place of not knowing, say, “I don’t know.”
2. Write down the wisdom you have learned in life – the ways of living you’ve found that lead to more life – and share that wisdom with someone.
3. Embrace an action/reflection model for learning: reflecting on the life we live with God and each other in this world (“a long loving look at the real”); rethinking; living it out; and then reflecting again, and so on.
4. Try on some silence before speaking, sitting with this question: “Is the word that is emerging in me apt, and timely, and needed?”
5. Embrace expansive language for God – that sees all of us created in the image of God – reading a favorite Scripture out loud, replacing “he” with “she” or “they.”
6. Practice Wisdom. Practice what we’ve come to know in Jesus. Work for a world that brings more life to those whose backs are up against a wall.
© 2021 Scott Clark