May God make your year a happy one! Not by shielding you from all sorrow and pain, But by strengthening you to bear it as it comes; Not by making your path easy, But by making you sturdy to travel any path; Not by taking hardships from you, But by taking fear from your heart; Not by granting you unbroken sunshine, But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows; Not by making your life always pleasant, But by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help. God's love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead. - From the Sisters of Charity of Paul the Apostle, Birmingham, England.
The school of Spirit
In the school of the Spirit, man learns wisdom through humility, knowledge by forgetting, how to speak by silence, how to live by dying.”Johannes Tauler (c.1300-1361)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6
The call of wisdom
Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.
The original serenity prayer
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) - unabridged, original version.
The coming of wisdom with time – Yeats
Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth. W.B Yeats, 1910
Do not worry
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” Matthew 6:34With thanks to A.J.L.
Introspect & Retrospect
The land and the light ask us to go inward during this phase of the year. It is a natural time to review our conduct and contemplate what we have learnt. In the realisation of failure, the possibility of success and fulfillment.
“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement.
One fails forward toward success.” C.S. Lewis
When we are up to our necks in it, barely keeping ourselves above water as the waves of weirdness and intensity crash around us, we may not have the broad overview that a sense of distance can offer. Looking back, the limitations created by our own fears and desires become more apparent. Zooming out, we can observe the patterns created and repeated through time. Are they getting louder? Softening? Shifting? Does the phrase “there I go again” spring to mind?
The ‘I’ of those moments and the ‘I’ retrospecting feel like distant cousins many times removed. The ‘I’ caught in the tangled distortions of personality is not the same ‘I’ that is able to rise up to a birds eye-view. Going in, going up, going back, moving forward.
“Wisdom is knowledge perfected through inward realization” M.P. Hall
Did all of that really happen in one short year, one sequence of unexpectedness and wonder swirling its way through more than thirty one million seconds? Yes. You have come a long way.
What a ride.