Last week I had a wonderful FaceTime conversation with my Camino buddy Moritz who lives in Germany. Three years ago this week, we were half-way through the Camino de Santiago. For more about Moritz, here is my original post.
But let me just say here—in case you don’t have the time or inclination to read it—that I am definitely old enough to be his mom and that Moritz and I hit it off immediately. We have kept in touch all this time and last week we had an hour long conversation about life in general, romantic relationships (his), what projects to pursue (mine) and on what in life you can or cannot compromise.
We talked for a long time about how when someone is wounded, we can help provide a healing environment but that we can’t do the actual healing for them—especially if they don’t acknowledge the wound. And as he talked, I now and then I said some things and at one point I heard myself say something and thought, “Wow. I didn’t even know I knew that.” I felt as if there was some deep inner wisdom was springing forth from me, like a plant I never noticed. The Voice of Wisdom was so clear, calm and comfortable—as if I was sitting by a rippling brook and the mellifluous tenor Andy Williams was singing these words.
After we hung up, I couldn’t help asking myself, “Why can’t I access that inner wisdom for myself?” There are times when I feel so muddled, confused and frustrated that not only do I not know what to do, but I don’t even know how to be with the situation.
I don’t hear a mellow voice of wisdom speaking to me at all. It’s more like I’m sitting in a tiny closet with a burlap bag over my head. There are muffled sounds, footsteps, the bag is hot and scratchy and I literally itch to get out of it. The Voice of Wisdom sounds like Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses. There is no answer, no guidance, no counsel. What’s a person to do?
Well, of course I consulted the Bible! I went right to the book of James because when you search “wisdom” in Bible Gateway, that is the first thing that comes up. (Full disclosure, although I would love for you to think that I recalled this off the top of my head.)
James 1:5 5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7,8 For the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Oh, yay! I couldn’t wait! I asked for wisdom just like James suggests. I heard nothing. What can one conclude except that one must be “double-minded and unstable in every way.” Hmm. This could be true but it seems a lot like blaming the victim to me.
I sat with this dilemma for a few days until it dawned on me that the silence was the answer. It was the Voice of Wisdom saying, “Stay still. Be silent.” Or, “If you don’t hear/feel anything, don’t do/say anything.”
Sometimes we don’t like our inner wisdom, the voice of Spirit. And that’s exactly when we need to pay close attention.