We are quite accustomed to hearing wisdom sayings, such as those found in the book of Proverbs or what we look for in a collection of quotations from famous people. This wisdom comes in short phrases, maybe funny or maybe profound. Perhaps we memorize it and store it away.
However, the wisdom that makes its deepest impact on us is what we absorb from stories. A classic myth or fairy tale instills insight that stimulates our emotions and our senses. We associate wisdom with a character and that character’s choices, actions, and discoveries. Even if such a wisdom story is fictional, it teaches us what is true.
Sometimes, our wisdom stories are factual, and we hear them from people we know. Following is an Examen-type prayer to help you discover a wisdom story in your own life.
Take a few moments to quiet yourself and take some deep breaths. Remind yourself, I am surrounded by the light of God’s loving gaze.
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a memory that involves a wisdom story. It could take one of several forms:
- a story told in your family for many years about how someone got through a hard time or overcame difficulty
- an experience in which someone taught you how to do something
- a time you watched a loved one, a neighbor, or an acquaintance demonstrate wisdom through how he or she reacted to a situation
- advice or encouragement you received from another person, perhaps more than once or on a regular basis
- an event or situation you experienced that developed your wisdom
Allow yourself to linger with this memory and savor it for several minutes if you can. Allow yourself to experience again the time, place, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions. Try to express in one simple sentence the wisdom you have remembered.
Express thanks for this wisdom story and what it has added to your life.
If you can pray this honestly, tell God that you are willing to be a source of wisdom stories for others.
Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and Friends is an international effort that collects the stories of elders from more than 30 countries. Carved from lifetimes of experience, every story is a testament to the power of faith, perseverance, human resilience, and love. Learn more at www.sharingwisdomoftime.com.