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Elders’ wisdom includes listening, seeing, wit and taking time

Our elders are so full of wisdom, wit and vitality that these life-giving qualities just pour out of them, even when they are not looking!  This is evident in so many ways to those of us blessed to live among them! 

Wisdom shows itself in many ways, some obvious, some more subtle. Sometimes, we may not even be aware that we have been touched by wisdom until long after that gift has borne fruit in us.

The wisdom of listening is a most appreciated gift to all of us, but particularly to those who have many stories to tell or thoughts that need airing.   Listening, hearing and telling are all of a piece.  The reciprocity turns an encounter into a wisdom experience. 

To be a good listener, one is more ready to tell stories and to revisit life experiences that have been important, maybe even formative.  This sharing may be a reminder of strengths used on previous occasions, and therefore accessible again.  When someone really listens, the speaker feels valued, respected, important and connected.  God bless those whose gift is the wisdom of listening.

Some people are blessed with the wisdom of seeing—seeing into the whole of another person, seeing what is really there, the goodness, truth, beauty that has grown throughout a lifetime of experiences reflected upon.  The wisdom seer often senses where hurt or loneliness or worry could be diminished by the offer of some “face-time,” an experience of seeing and being seen eye to eye, of recognition of worth.  Blessed are those who use their inner and outer sight.

We do not always think of wit as a wisdom gift, but I believe that it is.  Connecting ideas that do not normally go together surprises, delights, lightens our spirits.  A sense of humor interrupts our daily ruts and frees us of the “expected,” opening us to something new.  We really don’t always want the answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” to be “To get to the other side!”  I wouldn’t expect “Because the light turned green!”  Blessed are those who share the funny things of life because they help us laugh at ourselves, and just maybe, keep us young at heart.

The Spirit of Wisdom

   You risk guessing what

            I really want from you

                        …and you offer it.

You remember who I am,

   even if neither of us remembers

                        what I say

You offer me the safety to be me.

When we spend time with our elders, when our hearts are open to receive and possibly to be changed in the encounter, the richness of their wisdom “wisdoms” us and increases vitality in everyone.

Let’s remember, we are all on our way to being elders.  Some people just had a head start.  With a heart full of gratitude…

Mary Ann Farley, SNJM
Fig Tree Board moderator
Community director for the Convent of the Holy Names

Editor’s Note: The Fig Tree is grateful for receiving such wisdom from  Holy Names Sisters for 30 years!

Copyright © May 2014 - The Fig Tree