Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Knowledge Beyond Book Smarts

Intelligent. Having “smarts.” Fast learner.

In the educational world, these words are often synonymous with academic success and professional aptitude. The individuals who could be described with these words always leave me wondering about the amazing gifts that God gives each one of us. Two such examples follow.

I live with a Sister who absolutely loves the game show “Jeopardy.” She likes to see if she can answer the questions faster than the contestants. On the other hand, when I watch, I wonder how a person can know so much about almost everything and retrieve that grain of knowledge in a split second.

Another example: I had the privilege several years ago of teaching a student who was in the 99th percentile for intelligence. His parents enrolled him in the Mensa Society when he was merely in seventh grade! This society is geared to assist the super intelligent in making our world a better place. The “educational experts” suggested to the parents of this student that he should be advanced from seventh grade to high school. His parents told them, “No, our son needs to understand how to work with his peers before he goes to an accelerated academic environment.” As a result, one would never know that he was brilliant! I surely didn’t! Yes, he got straight A’s, but his best friend was in the bottom two percent of the class. They both learned about life from each other.

I think about these two examples as I continue my series on the Gifts of the Spirit. This time, let’s focus on the Gift of Knowledge. Now, you might have surmised that this Gift of the Holy Spirit doesn’t give someone “more marbles” or the ability to press a gameshow buzzer faster than someone else. Nope, not even close!

The knowledge that we speak about from the Holy Spirit is the Divine Knowledge that the saints possessed; knowledge of God and the Trinitarian life. As Archbishop Luis Martinez writes in his book, “The Sanctifier,” They “look deep into the very bosom of the divine, and from that high vantage point contemplate creatures. … It is an understanding of creatures after the divine manner so that we may be able to lift ourselves from them to God. … It gives us an insight into the mysterious relationship between creatures, and particularly into the great, the transcendental, relationship that creatures have with God.” 1

Several years ago, I came across a story on the internet about an audiologist in England who discovered a way to “hear” the sounds of a potter as he/she spun a pot.  The theory, called archaeoacoustics, says that a pot or vase could be read like a gramophone record or a phonograph cylinder. Can you imagine actually hearing the hum of the potter or his/her conversation as the pot was made? Well, my bubble was burst when I did some further study and discovered that this was fake news. Darn!

Where am I going with this? Well, the potter above did leave something behind as he worked: his fingerprints! The Potter, who crafted the entire universe, also left His identity in creation. The Gift of Knowledge allows us to not only see His fingerprints but also worship Him because of that nearness!

Even though this is such an amazing revelation, the Gift of Knowledge does not stop here. Because of the appreciation and the in-depth presence of God in the created world, the fullness of His presence does not lie therein. To use a line from Scripture, all the things of the earth are in vain because they are fleeting. Think of spring flowers; beautiful one day and dead the next. Yesterday, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a meme, “Where will you be in five years according to your birthdate?” I looked at the month of January only to read, “Living with your parents.” My parents are no longer on this earth. I instantly felt the bite of my mortality.

The Gift of Knowledge instills within a person’s soul a hunger to live life that has our feet firmly planted on the earth but our hearts and eyes directed toward heaven! Or, to live in this world but not to be of this world!

I guess the saints had some “smarts” after all!

1Martínez Luis M. The Sanctifier. Pauline Books & Media, 2004. Pg. 187-189.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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