Tag Archives: Wisdom

Paradox

All that is hidden and all that is plain I have come to know through Wisdom. Within her is a spirit that is intelligent, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, dependable, unperturbed, all seeing…. She pervades and permeates all things, she is the untarnished mirror of God’s active power. She is one, and makes all things new, and in each generation passes into holy souls. — Wisdom 7:21-27

The history of spirituality tells us that we must learn to accept paradoxes, or we will never truly love anything, or see it correctly. (Normal thought would say you are either human or divine, but you can’t imagine being both until you meet Jesus!) Seeming contradictions are not impediments to the spiritual life, they are an integral part of it. They don’t encourage you to abandon your critical faculties, but to sharpen them. Please trust me on that.

Ikona_SofiyaPremBozhiyaGRMThe above passage personifying Wisdom (Sophia), is an insightful description of how one sees things paradoxically and contemplatively. Interestingly enough, Scripture calls this subtle seeing “she,” which in a patriarchal culture is a way of saying “alternative.” Alan Watts says that the loss of paradoxical thinking is the great blindness of our civilization, which is what many of us believe happened when we repressed the feminine side of our lives as the inferior side. It was a loss of subtlety, discrimination, and capacity for complementarity.

Each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships. “Untarnished mirrors,” as Wisdom says, receive the whole picture, which is always the darkness, the light, and the subtle shadings of light that make shape, form, color, and texture beautiful. You cannot see in total light or total darkness. You must have variances of light to see.

Richard Rhor
Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

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Crossing The River

boy-carrying-girlTwo monks, Tanzan and a younger monk, were walking down a muddy street in the city. They came on a lovely young girl dressed in fine silks, who was afraid to cross because of all the mud.

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan. And he picked her up in his arms, and carried her across.

The two monks did not speak again till nightfall. Then, when they had returned to the monastery, the young monk couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Monks are not suppose to go near young girls,” he said “certainly not beautiful ones like that one! Why did you do it?”

“My dear fellow,” said Tanzan. “I put that girl down back in the city. It’s you who are still carrying her.”

For the young monk, and for many of us, crossing the river can be the hardest task that we ever face. We find it exceedingly difficult to put something down, or to allow a difficult task to be in the past. Like the young monk we carry the burden far past the decision.


Prayer Starter – Lord release me for worry and anxiety today, and allow me to cross the river.

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More Celtic Wisdom

Celtic WISDOM 1

Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic. Your sense of each other darkens and your presence is sore. If you can come through this time, it can purify with your love, and falsity and need will fall away. It will bring you onto new ground where affection can grow again.

——John O’Donohue

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New Ways of Exploration

 Van Gogh's Starry Night

Van Gogh’s Starry Night

“It is central to Christian living that we should celebrate the goodness of creation, ponder its present brokenness, and, insofar as we can, celebrate in advance the healing of the world, the new creation itself. Art, music, literature, dance, theater, and many other expressions of human delight and wisdom, can all be explored in new ways.”

― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

I have read and taught Bishop Wright’s Simply Christian more than once, and it is a very well written and insightful book. Everyone would do well to be exposed to his understanding of the Christian message.

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Good Heart

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley's Chapel City ...

Statue of John Wesley at Wesley’s Chapel City Road, London. (January 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

—-John Wesley from “Catholic Spirit”

The words of John Wesley ring loud and clear in this confusing and divisive time. Wise men allow others to differ from them without turning on them. The concept that we must all walk in step with one another or become enemies is destroying our churches and nation. Our political or theological stands are not the sum total of our being.. The heart reveals our true nature. We are people of good heart or bad heart. If we wish ill will and destruction with any who disagree with our opinions, then I would say that we are not of good heart. However, people of good heart and wisdom can embrace others even if they are not in full agreement with them. 

People of good heart:

  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Attempt to find the greater good
  • Work for the greater good
  • Seek truth
  • Understand there is more than one right answer
  • Give up power

To all I ask: “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”

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