One of my favorite William Stafford poems is “The Little Ways that Encourage Good Fortune.” It concerns wisdom, which Stafford describes as “having things right in your life and knowing why.”
Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.
If you do not have things right in your life
you will be overwhelmed:
you may be heroic, but you will not be wise.
If you have things right in your life,
but you do not know why.
You are just lucky, and you will not move
in the little ways that encourage good fortune.
The saddest are those not right in their lives
who are acting to make things right for others:
they act only from the self—
and that self will never be right:
no luck, no help, no wisdom. (William Stafford, The Way it Is, p. 141)
For someone who does for a living what I do, there is an important caution in this poem, because my vocation carries with it the significant temptation to believe that I can see what would be “right” for others and set out to “make those things right.”
That, in fact, is NOT my role, nor is it anyone else’s. Instead, we are simply called to point toward the sources of wisdom–especially, from my perspective, the will, way, and words of Jesus–and encourage one another to cooperate with his work in our lives.
Very interesting, but doing an honest assement of my situation or lack of wisdom is depressing. At first there was hope for an answer, then confusion as I read on, then relization that things are not right. Although, in fact, there is a solution to learn more about Jesus and God. My wish would be to shed my sin like many creatures shed there outer shell as they grow and need to molt. Some how there must be a way to connect with God at a higher level and that is my holy grail. The need to make the connection but not the means or understanding of how I can make the connection. Maybe things will be in order and I will understand why and then be able to take on responsibility of being there like a lighthouse to warn others away without meddling.
I don’t want this response to seem glib or oversimplified, but I think that doing “an honest assessment” and being “open to learn more about Jesus and God” are signficant steps on the path of/toward wisdom. And, God responds freely to our seeking of wisdom. In James, there is this hopeful promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly” (1:5).