In investigating the Self (myself) through Wisdom Literature, my first question has to be – ‘am I any the wiser for this long journey?’ And who measures that wisdom, if not myself? Am I kinder, more worthy of love, a speaker of peace, less likely to judge, than when I was the child .. right now I would have to say no – for I am still the ashes of the phoenix and have not risen yet to be reborn. So let me use the Wisdom of others to look upon this Self and see where we are now in the Journey of Life, from birth to rebirth, beginning at the ending … where ignorance is no longer bliss.
Condemned alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.”
As many people choose to do with the Bible, I quote only a small part at the end of a long poem by Thomas Gray, who speaks of life at Eton College, but could also be speaking about life in general, the highs and lows .. and asks that final question “Yet ah! why should they know their fate?” Which really leads on to the events in Revelation, but also leads back to the getting of Wisdom through the Bible and Apocrypha – Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Judith, and many more. Some deny the right or importance of the Apocrypha as a reference to our Spiritual past, but to me they show a broader field of understanding of the people who wrote the words we believe are important in understanding not just God and Jesus, but also the mindset and beliefs of the societies from which they came.
The getting of wisdom can be a very painful process. Lessons and learning drop into our laps, from multitudes of sources, but they do not become Wisdom until we learn to turn them inwards and apply them to ourselves. We do not learn compassion from showing compassion, but only from suffering pain and loss of our own, so that we can step into the shoes of the ‘other’ and share, in some small way, the emotions that are driving their life journey. We can then ’empathise’ rather than just ‘sympathising’. Then we can ‘be’ Love (1 Cor 13), rather than just an observer, the clanging cymbal.
“Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
― St. Patrick