“My feet kept to the level path because from earliest youth I was familiar with wisdom.”
— Sirach 51:15
LORD, to know what You would have me to think or say at any given moment would be perfection. To know just how to weigh life circumstances on Your scale of justice–love and mercy–would be supremely satisfying. To discern lies from truth even when they are packed in shiny wrapping paper, well, that would be out-of-this-world! I do believe people would name me God! That’s not going to happen.
You prescribe for me what should be a simple method to gain wisdom; a perfect method for learning wisdom is to nurture familiarity with Your ways. It really isn’t a simple method because it’s pretty hard for me to transfer my gaze to You when I’m attached to MY ways. Becoming better acquainted with anything requires familiarity before it can become second-nature. Learning to walk requires falling down. Learning to cook requires burning some things. Learning to play the piano requires some discord. Learning to live in what You envision for me requires some failures, actually, a lot of failures.
The Books of Wisdom in Sacred Scripture are a tutorial for me as I become familiar with what You desire to foster in me. It seems that at one point in my life a passage will arrest my attention so that Your holy Spirit may teach me what I need to learn from the life-circumstance of that particular point on the path of Faith. Years, even decades later, You will lead me back over similar territory and You will once again reveal a little more to me in order to correct my gaze. It’s taking a lifetime to become familiar enough with Your ways that they become second-nature (my true nature?) to me. The path may appear different to me each time, but little by little You are leveling out the rough places in my spirit and filling in the pocks that trip me up. Pitfalls and pratfalls of my own making eventually becoming the holy ground for You, the Father of Light to pour into me Your luminous virtues.
“Happy are those who meditate on Wisdom, and fix their gaze on knowledge; who ponder her ways in their heart and understand her paths.” -Sirach 14:20-21
Pondering begets familiarity. I can slip into pondering and meditating on resentment and self-protection, but that makes me more familiar with the human condition than with Your heart. Forgive me, LORD. I recall the first time I got glasses. The optometrist made a wise decision to take me to the window before he placed my new glasses on my head. I was familiar with our town’s downtown, I knew where places were and what the landscape looked like, yet, when the optometrist placed those glasses on my head, my 11 year-old brain was stunned by what I was seeing that I had never seen before. Oh, I had seen it, but my perception was blurred by my impairment. I looked down the street that day from the 5th floor of the building and what I saw was faceted with precise edges. Where once the autumn trees looked like a watercolor of reds and burnt orange, I saw the distinction of every leaf. Where once the S&H Green Stamp store sign was a hanging green rectangle, it now revealed a neatly detailed sign.
The largest obstacle for me in knowing Wisdom is the fix of my vision and when I allow you to correct it with Your counsel I’m almost always stunned by what I never perceived before. Whatever I am seeing, the temptation is to look at it the same way I’ve always seen it, yet when I choose to allow you to increase my faith in You through obedience to the counsel of Your Word, you correct my vision to Your reality. You fix my gaze! It’s mind-blowing to me that where once I saw in another person only frustration and fault, You illuminate to me their heart. Where once I thought the people in the room were judging me, I see now that it was I judging me, they didn’t have a second thought about me. Isn’t that the height of pride–thinking that life is all about me! An insightful friend told me once when I was fearful of being misunderstood that no one thinks about me as much as I think about me! That was Your Spirit using another in the process of fixing my gaze on You, and I’ll never forget it.
When I am skewing my focus to me, myself, and I, I’m straining against Your desire for me in my walk toward You, fix my gaze.
When I’m more concerned about what I am saying to myself than what you are saying to me, fix my ears.
When my words dominate our conversations, fix my tongue.
When my feet stubbornly walk akimbo from Your path, fix my step.
And when I am tempted to ignore Your wisdom, whip me on the backside!