Wisdom before peace

Many years ago, I attended a public event and found, right there at my destined seat, a little silver ring bearing the word SAPIENTIA.

Latin for “wisdom.”

I cannot remember the event itself, or even the location … only that, as the ring had no traceable owner, it came home with me. A bit of metaphysical metaphorica: If you find wisdom, hang onto it.

This past week I sorted through some old things in my jewelry box and rediscovered the ring.

It’s somewhat tarnished but still glinted in the light when I picked it up. Cool little circle in my hand. It seemed to say: If ever there is a time for wisdom, it’s now.

Consider this definition of wisdom (also known as sapience) from Wikipedia:

The ability to think and act using knowledge, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence, and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.

Meditate on those words a while, in light of recent weeks—as reeling, wounded, protesting America looks inward at its egregious wrongs of police brutality and racism, as more and more voices are raised for solidarity and reform, as people weep and pray for peace. We cannot act accordingly, cannot begin to heal and repair, if we do not think. We cannot advocate for justice and make concerted change if we are not deeply aware of what we think and how it affects our relationships with each other. We cannot obtain knowledge and understanding between us without hard conversations and self-examinations to find bias we didn’t know was there, like a cancerous lump that only grows and festers until it’s removed. Else all of society suffers. We don’t often think of wisdom as a matter of the heart; we don’t typically see it as the wrapping of real compassion and benevolence… not just in our distribution of these, but in allowing ourselves to receive them. Our wellness as a whole relies on our individual willingness to be healed. It begins with listening. In desiring better ways of seeing as the road to better ways of being. Reform is a long process… but with wisdom, it is possible.

Lastly, while wisdom plays an integral part in the relatively new field of positive psychology (what makes human life meaningful and worth living, seeking individual and societal well-being), it also has ancient spiritual roots. In the many religions of the world, wisdom is tied to balance, goodness, the future, seeing things for what they are, a knowledge and fear of God. My Sapientia ring carries the image of a descending dove; in Christian iconography, that represents the Holy Spirit. Long before Christianity, a dove represented… peace.

We pray for peace, as we cry out against injustice. As we advocate for systemic reforms, as we educate ourselves about ourselves. Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have begun.

Let us first seek wisdom.

11 thoughts on “Wisdom before peace

  1. Yes! If ever there WAS a time for wisdom it is now! Your words are so reassuring and comforting to me today when the world seems so tumultuous. Thank you for giving me hope and peace.
    By the way, in the Catholic tradition, wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit too!

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    • I figured, on first finding the ring, that it is Catholic; although I am Protestant, the knowledge of what it stands for flooded me with awe and sent me into deep reflection. Wisdom, peace, the spirit (and Spirit) all connected … all in all, a reminder to me to be acutely aware and mindful of my choices, actions, and words, in these pain-seared, tumultuous (good word choice!) times. I am grateful for your words, Christine, and that you found reassurance and comfort in mine.

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  2. There is some strong Karma going on with that metaphysical metaphorical ring. Divine intervention, perhaps. A message when we all need it most. Wisdom is a goal. In my opinion, it is not a destination, but a lifelong journey. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Your post made me think about the journey of that ring, its loss to someone, “it had no traceable owner,” was its gift of illumination to you. I’d like to think, in realizing that the ring was gone —why did the person remove it? how did he or she regard it? how had it found its way to him or her?—the primary feeling its absence brought was the message he or she had left behind: In shared wisdom, Peace; pass it on. Thanks for doing that here.

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    • What a powerfully insightful response… I wondered, too, who lost it and how. What the story is. A ring, of course is circular, without beginning or end – symbolizing eternity – a most intriguing medium for conveying a message of wisdom and peace. Thank you so much for your words!

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  4. I read this post yesterday, Fran, but never sent out my reply. “Our wellness as a whole relies on our individual willingness to be healed.” This is so true. By the behaviors witnessed on the news, it appears that many people do not understand that individual healing leads to small group healings and so on. We need kindness and connections. Today, my neighbor and I saw each other outside and we crossed the street to stand 6 feet apart and just connect. It was such a healing moment because we both felt alive. Since balance is my one word this year, your line”…wisdom is tied to balance, goodness, the future, seeing things for what they are.” resonated with me. I think tying in the ring with the word wisdom and the sign of the dove was just the right prompt for your insightful writing.

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  5. Thank you for this post that, in and of itself, demonstrates your own wisdom. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a time where much-needed change can take place, but that change needs to take place after the emotion dies down and clear heads can lead us forward. Please don’t think I’m suggesting anything other than change, but we need change without the unintended consequences that can come with emotional decision making; change needs to come through wise leadership. I’m glad you found that ring, and I’m glad you gave me (and the rest of your readers) that word today.

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    • I so appreciate your words, Tim. Wisdom is a quest. A daily one, in decisions, responses … how well you make the point that change needs to occur with clear heads after emotions die down. That is the only way change will be sustainable. Yes, change is necessary. You’ve tapped into the very heart of this post, where I was coming from. Wisdom in moving forward is essential. Again – thank you!

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  6. This is what we expect of our leaders–and should of ourselves, yes? Wisdom, above all else. To think deeply before acting. I am surrounded by owls at my desk and in my home, symbols of wisdom. When owls came into vogue a few years ago, I thought to myself, “This is a subconscious, societal need for wisdom, displayed in retail.”
    One of my owls on display in a resin plaque surrounded with a poem:
    “A wise old owl lived in an oak.
    The more she saw, the less she spoke.
    The less she spoke, the more she heard.
    Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”

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    • I believe in symbolism such as your owls and in your astute perception of their sudden popularity – signs of a culture desperate for wisdom, surely. And I love that verse on your plaque. Thank you for all your thoughts, Chris.

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