IN ITS TIME, WISDOM EMERGES
READ: Ecclesiasticus 24:1-22
“Wisdom speaks her own praises, in the midst of her people she glories in herself … From eternity, in the beginning, God created me, and for eternity I, Wisdom, shall remain … I, Wisdom, have spread my branches out like an oak tree, and my branches are glorious and graceful…for memories of me are sweeter than honey, inheriting me is sweeter than the honeycomb…” – Ecclesiasticus 24:1,9,16,20
“In its time...” Wisdom, like so many matters of the Spirit, comes …in its time. It is a Benedictine expression of the spiritual truth that patience is a most precious gift to the contemplative Christian, a gift crafted from the strength of eternity and given to those who allow it to come upon them. “In its time …”
A short ways past my writer’s cabin, my hermitage, dwells an old soul, an oak tree that has clearly lived and grown for a long, long time. I tend to imagine oak trees as male in gender – I suppose that is a matter of my projecting my own masculine soul upon them – but this specific oak tree has always seemed to be more properly understood in the feminine gender. Possibly it is the way her graceful branches seem to reach out as in a mother’s embrace … or it may be my identifying this old oak with the Biblical tradition of referring to Wisdom in feminine terms. For whatever reason, I do see this old soul of an oak as a most gracious and elegant lady. Every time I spend an hour or so with her, she reminds me of the relationship that exists between wisdom and the passing of time. “In its time …”
There is something in human nature that is obsessed with going faster and faster. Somehow – it seems almost axiomatic these days – faster is better and even faster is even better yet This obsession with the speeding up of time seems to be a contrivance quite unnatural when it placed in contrast to the patient ways of Creation. Sometimes, I think our obsession with faster and faster is a contemporary reincarnation of something demonic. It seems we can’t help ourselves … we have to do it … to go faster and faster. Impatience seems to come quite easily to our fallen human nature, but, in contrast, Patience is something that we must access from powers divine. In respect to matters of the soul … even the soul of Creation … there is a certain best time for all matters. Why? For in Christ, we live in Eternal Time.
Eternity is a quality of time that has its own pace. An old monk once said, “Eternity is a clock that is measured in the heartbeats of God.” And so the contemplative approach to Christian living is learning how we might live with the patience of God … learning how to give all matters … their needed time.
Wise, old oak trees are not quickly born … they become so by being faithful over time. And so many of the qualities of mature Christian discipleship … become so … only by being faithful over time. Now, I speak not of the foolishness of merely getting old … so many souls grow old yet never mature … for they are seldom faithful in the days they journey from the first step to the last. And I do speak not of the good old days … thinking that somehow God got lost in some nostalgic yesteryear. Rather .. I speak of living faithfully in each present day, each present day that makes up our ever growing maturity. We need to always remember that God made life in forms both young and old. Young acorns are of God, they are incarnations of hope; old, oak tees are of God, they are incarnations of faithfulness. In every acorn, there lives the oak tree; in every oak tree, there lives the acorn.
Brother Anselm, a man of many years, once said to me, “Brother Anthony, please always remember that in Christ, we are called to always take the long view. And by doing so, we are able to do eternal work in each fleeting moment. So be patient, for in the gift of patience God gives us the power of Eternity.”
The wisdom of God … does NOT fall from the tree, full grown… rather it emerges from within the oak tree itself … in its time.
Brother Anthony of the Cross