Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom.

~Aristotle

 

Categories: Contemplation in Action and Contemplative Living. Tags: wisdom. Formats: Monday Moment and Quote. Interest Areas: Monday Moments.

Minding the Gaps

Each season offers gifts all its own. January’s spare beauty seems fitting after the extravagance of the holidays. Trees have shed every outer expression of the living sap within. Icy streams conceal mottled fish resting below. Snow blankets the fields’ ridges, gullies, and rocks. Winter, in her unparalleled way, changes the view. What was once hidden under canopies of green is now revealed, while the things once readily apparent are now veiled.

Winter is a welcome arrival in the cycle of each year, but I sometimes feel frightened during the winter seasons of my life when “spare beauty” actually seems barren and desolate. I wonder where the vitality has gone. I fret; maybe the inner sap is no longer flowing and the creative stream has dried up. Does my life still hold meaning when I feel stuck and frustrated, my efforts coming to naught?

What is true, life-giving power?

I happened to be watching a home shopping channel the other day for various reasons, none of them particularly grand. In the midst of hawking that day’s best value, the host mentioned she had been talking with her daughters about the meaning of mercy. Surprised, I thought, “Huh, what an interesting word to explore with young children.” I began thinking about my seven-year-old son, Gabe, and our adventures in spiritual formation. Feeling expansive, I decided to choose a “word of the month” to explore and discuss together, not unlike a vendor’s Today’s Special Value, perhaps. I guess you just never know where inspiration will crop up.

In honor of summer’s effulgence and the sun’s ever-reliable gift of light, we began with the word “generosity.” There were many life lessons and examples to share, and inspired by this initial success, I decided to be a bit more daring in my choice for September. I chose “power.”

Our world is full of examples of the abuse and misuse of power, but what is true, life-giving power? Could I explain it, not just in the negative but in a positive way that left a meaningful impression on my son’s young life? I researched examples, stories, and quotations looking for a wise and solid definition, eventually defining power as the ability to take action for good. Such a simple definition, though, belies power’s great complexity. Power certainly conveys a sense of dynamism, but it also includes the choice not to act. Power carries a sense of strength, whole-heartedness, clarity, and resolve. But power is also experienced in vulnerability, tenderness, and tears. Power suggests freedom, but we all know epic stories of those who have been imprisoned and deprived while still possessing great personal power and freedom of spirit. True power holds together freedom and responsibility, strength and wisdom.

October 10, 2015 by Kate Coffey
Categories: Parenthood and Spiritual Deepening. Tags: generosity, life, power, and wisdom. Formats: Article, Article by Shalem Staff, and Friday Blog.