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Listening to Sacred Stillness: Seeking Wisdom in Stillness

Listening to Sacred Stillness: Seeking Wisdom in Stillness December 7, 2021

Seeking Wisdom in Stillness

What is wisdom and how do we find it? Where do we search for it? Why would we seek wisdom in stillness?

We find looking for knowledge or information less challenging than seeking wisdom. Our culture seems to value being informed and knowing things more than becoming wise.

Some of us assume we need to grow old in order to seek wisdom. We like to believe experience automatically helps us find wisdom.

We might try learning how to be wise from other people. Sometimes we read books written by people we believe are, or were, wise. Some of us attend workshops and conferences with people we think are wise. We may listen to sermons or other talks we hope will make us wiser.

It can take a long time before we appreciate whether another person is wise. We may experience something which seems wise at first, but which wears off over time.

Most of us have difficulty appreciating whether we ourselves are becoming wise. It is a challenge for us to be objective about how wise we are in ourselves.

How do we gain wisdom? Where do we go to find and appreciate it? When do we know whether we are coming into contact with wisdom?

Can we sort out whether we are being wise or foolish while there is still enough time to make a difference?

The way I seek wisdom most often is listening to sacred stillness.

It may seem ironic to seek wise counsel in stillness. In my experience discerning what is wise is less about analyzing options and more about reflecting. It is a more contemplative pursuit than gaining information.

I am learning how stillness is wisdom’s natural habitat. Wisdom lives in stillness, so we go there to seek it.

We Seek Wisdom in Stillness

While wisdom lives in stillness, it is not wisdom’s only home. We can find wisdom in many situations, if we take time to seek it.

It is not because wisdom can only live or grow or thrive under certain protected conditions. Loud noises or bright lights or rapid movement do not scare wisdom away or endanger it.

We find wisdom in stillness because we are able to listen and pay attention when we are still.

Stillness is not necessarily a particularly fertile environment for wisdom. It is not as if stillness is the right soil with the proper acidity for producing wisdom.

We seek wisdom in stillness because when we are still we can recognize and appreciate what wisdom has to tell us. Stillness frees us from distractions which make it more difficult for us to listen.

We are better able to recognize and explore wisdom when we take time to listen to sacred stillness. Wisdom is always there, waiting for us, but it is often drowned out.

We do not listen the way we would to someone reading, or telling, a story. It is not about remembering every word or even being caught up in the narrative.

Our practice is not about squeezing every drop of insight from the world around us. We are not trying to organize and categorize or even remember wisdom.

Wisdom is not something for us to earn or acquire. We are not hoping to amass a collection of wise sayings.

Wisdom is not about memorizing answers so we can pass an objective test. Our practice is not about getting other people to appreciate how wise we are becoming. There is no checklist or wisdom hall of fame we are hoping to complete.

We discover wisdom in stillness and it flows into and through us.

Finding Wisdom in Stillness

Wisdom can be a challenge to find even as we practice listening to sacred stillness.

Our practice is not about flipping a switch which finds wisdom for us.

We often recognize wisdom in some of the most unexpected places.

More and more we find it as we reflect on what we have experienced. Our search for wisdom is not about adding to our store of facts or experience, but about the time we spend in stillness.

Most of us receive more than enough information each day. We do not find wisdom in accumulating even more. It comes from how we listen, how we respond to what we hear.

Wisdom is not about knowing more or experiencing more. It becomes our own as we put it into practice.

We demonstrate we have gained and accepted wisdom, it has become ours, when it changes how we live. We know we are becoming wise when wisdom shapes our behavior.

Wisdom we do not put into practice is no more than a good idea. We know we have found wisdom when we appreciate how it helps us live differently.

We listen to sacred stillness and hear wisdom in its depths.

Recognizing Wisdom in Stillness

We do not need more ideas, more emotional experiences, more strength to find wisdom. Sometimes new stimulation makes wisdom more difficult for us to recognize.

I have come to appreciate wisdom not as something we pursue, but part of the fabric of our world. We are not on a quest to find something hidden somewhere. What we seek is all around us and within us.

When we need wisdom it can help us to step out of our regular routine. Sometimes I go to the beach or the mountains or the woods. Sometimes it helps to take time in the middle of everyday life and listen for wisdom.

Wisdom is not a wild animal to be found and put into a cage. We find wisdom and listen to what it has to tell us.

As we take time to stop and listen we find wisdom within ourselves and in the world around us. It is not limited to blinding flashes of insight. It comes to us one drop at a time, setting our hearts on fire.

Where will we go to seek wisdom in stillness today?

How will we recognize wisdom in stillness within us this week?

[Image by Alexander.Hüls]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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