Saturday, July 13, 2024

A Paddleboat’s Lesson in Wisdom

Many years ago, when I was in college, my parents and brother and I went on a mini-vacation to visit an aunt who lived in Connecticut. She lived near the ocean and a man-made lake. This lake, probably the size of a football field, rented out paddle boats.  When I saw them initially, I realized that I never had the experience riding in one of them. So we rented two boats; one for my parents and the other for my brother and I.

I was truly excited about this as we donned, amidst some minor complaints, our life jackets. As my brother and I got into our boat, our parents sped off across the surface of the lake working like a team. When we were untied from the dock, we struggled at first to push the pedals with the same force and wound up traveling in circles. After some heartfelt arguments and some minor negotiations, we got the hang of using our legs in tandem for the propulsion. However, steering was a complete nightmare.

These paddleboats were different than most. Both the paddles and the steering levers were independent. In order for the boat to go anywhere, each member of the crew had to truly work together, side by side. The lever was responsible for a flap that was on the side of the paddle propellers. If team members weren’t in sync, the boat couldn’t go forward. Neither of us humble enough to surrender to the will of the other as far as to what direction we should be heading toward, we ended up traveling only 30 feet from the dock! In fact, when the whistle blew to indicate that our 30 minutes were up, a rope had to be thrown to drag us back to the dock.

I got out of the boat fuming mad, with tears streaming down my face. At the time, I naively thought that the issue was with my brother and not with me!

I tell you this story as I complete my series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom works in cooperation with knowledge and understanding. Knowledge allows us to learn things of God. Understanding takes that knowledge and makes it our own. Both of these, even though we are speaking about the things of God, are rooted “in the earth.” By this, I mean that knowledge and understanding are the team that assists us in learning about God as we would learn something in school. Wisdom is completely different.

“The gift of wisdom gives to our souls [the] power to experience divine things, to taste them in the depth of our being and, by that pleasure and experience, to judge all things.  … The light of the gift of wisdom sets the heart on fire with love and in that way returns to the Principle from which it emanated, completing the divine circle.”1

This “vision” of God impels us to perform acts of charity. We actually hunger to pour out ourselves in acts of love to those around us, thus incarnating the life of God within us to the world around us. This is how we build the Kingdom of God on earth. This is how we become the hands of God on earth!

The result? “The gift of wisdom produces peace, which the Apostle called the ‘peace of God which surpasses all understanding’, (Phil 4:7) peace that surpasses all that we can perceive through our senses, that is above all human peace.”2

Wisdom gives us the ability to cling to God, to delight in divine things and to be willing to suffer for the sake of the Kingdom, for in the light of wisdom, the Cross is beautiful!

Yes, this is profound but it calls us to work in tandem with the Holy Spirit and not fight against His wishes! It seems that I needed to learn this so many years ago! I do so appreciate it now!

1Martínez Luis M. The Sanctifier. Pauline Books & Media, 2004. Pg. 212-213.

2Martinez, pg. 216.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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