I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love,
so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding
and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
from Colossians 2:1-5
Paul is encouraging the church. He’s not encouraging the church to read the right books or say the right words so they’ll know the right things and be superior to one another. He’s encouraging the church to know Christ through their relationships with one another, through their caring for one another, and through their making space for one another to thrive.
He suggests that wisdom and knowledge are found in the human experience of learning to love one another… and maybe most particularly when we are not all very easy to love.
Some of it might just be that the thing we find easiest to judge in someone else may be the very thing we struggle with ourselves. There may be wisdom in having grace for one another instead of contempt.
One of my very favorite meditations is also one of my very least favorite. It’s called “The Guest House,” and it suggests that even our internal relationships with our emotions may help us grow into wise and fulfilled people. The poet seems to think that fighting against the sadness or the anger or the anxiety (or disgust or annoyance or boredom or impatience or despair) may not actually fix our lives. Perhaps having grace for ourselves and for one another is closer to what it means to be truly human — not perfectly without the hard parts of life, but able to love ourselves and one another even in the midst of them. It’s part of not taking ourselves too seriously, and trusting that even the hard moments will pass.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
What if your annoyances with others turned into opportunities for some self assessment instead? What if your joys didn’t just entertain you, but also taught you about the meaning of life, along with your struggles? What if we learned to find peace in the midst of whatever nonsense (good or bad) is happening around us, so we are not subject to the ups and downs, but are able to carve a steady course through whatever comes?
Be encouraged. Be united in love with one another. Know that in the midst of doing that hard work of loving self and loving your community, you are indeed growing in the wisdom that is found in the very heart of Christ.
by Kris Marshall
Photo credit: “Embrace Burn” at Burning Man, 2014, by Duncan Rawlinson
As you go about your day, keep your eyes open.
What does “Wisdom” look like to you?
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