‘Our prosaic word “discernment” conceals the wonder, the miracle, of the insights that are available to us.’
Let me speak of an infinite store of wisdom. It is made available for us by the ‘other’ – that transcendent other of many names, which speaks to us through the quietness, and through people who have been attentive to the message from the elsewhere of which we know little. Our prosaic word ‘discernment’ conceals the wonder, the miracle, of the insights that are available to us if we can quieten ourselves enough to hear. Not our insights, but gifts from another realm that percolate through us. This process largely travels via our known experiences, though some souls seem born with an innate ability to receive these messages.
This is a gift that lies at the core of our purpose. We are blessed (although we tend to see it as a mixed blessing) because so many Friends find their way to a Meeting house once they have passed over that mid-life threshold, when the path dips downwards and the accumulated leaves of experience provide the fertile ground for those small seeds. We do not have a monopoly of those fleeting fragments of truth but they bring a responsibility to live them and share them. That neighbourly sharing was known to early Friends – ‘be patterns’ – and receipt of such wisdom may also urge us to awaken the world to what we have received. Awaken the world in quiet, humble sharing of the gifts that have been showered on us. Not stridently, nor assertively, not in anger or frustration, not aggressively or violently, but in the peace that wisdom inhabits. We can connect with a felt sense of the depth and breadth of what lies beyond those glimpses, how human beings could be – what we all fail to be, to a greater or lesser extent, but which still beckons us, to look, to see, to receive, to be changed.
Most of us are on that downward path and we need to be open, to allow those fruits to ripen and be shared with others. To embrace the call to declare that there is another way, irrespective of a faith or none, a way that is beyond the physical occupations of earning a living, protecting ourselves from life’s adversities, of competing, of hating difference, of envying some and looking down on others. I am as prone to those vexations and temptations as anyone. Wisdom reminds me that there is another way of being. Failure is part of the process but humanity is not irredeemably flawed and doomed. We have the potential to transcend our physical nature. Not in our lifetime – the timescale of that other dimension demands much more patience – yet the vision can be dimly and distantly perceived. The path of wisdom is always visible and accessible. All – a big all – we have to do is say yes.
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