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Searching for Wisdom
by Sarah Kohles, OSF | October 11, 2012
Scripture Reflection for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 14, 2012)
How do I know what God wants me to do? This is a question young adults long to answer. There are so many choices and sometimes no clear answers.
Many families, peoples, and nations are split apart. Our world has so many injustices, so much violence, and no easy answers. It zoomed way past over-whelming to mind-numbing awhile ago. Plus there are so many choices—married life, single life, religious life, priesthood, as well as so many job options and responsibilities. It’s no wonder young adults are stressed and searching for answers.
In their search for answers, young adults can be misunderstood or even criticized for seeking structure, clear definitions of how to live a moral life, and signs and symbols that give them a sense of identity. However, there is wisdom in seeking out whatever is missing in their own lives, and naturally, each person’s need is different.
This Sunday’s readings speak of many things—prayer, prudence, discernment, wisdom—which people of all ages seek in their desire for relationship with God. It takes discipline and practice to grow them in our lives.
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. (Wisdom 7:7)
Prayer is the key. It sounds so very basic, but like any other relationship, if we don’t put in the time with God, is there a relationship? There are many different prayer styles and practices to choose from. It doesn’t matter which one you choose or which one you like best. Pick one. Work out time in your life to do it every day for at least two or three weeks – no matter how busy you are and no matter whether or not you feel like it. It takes a couple weeks for something to become a habit. If you try it and it really doesn’t work for you, choose a different one and try it for a couple of weeks. An ever-deepening prayer life is the groundwork for all the other virtues and is essential for continuing to choose faithfulness in following Jesus. Here’s a few ways of praying that have helped me at different times:
- Waking Up with the Word – Before I crawl out of bed in the morning I read the Scriptural readings for the day and spend time reflecting on what they might mean for me this day. I also take the time to remember the people who are on my mind and heart. It helps me to do this before I get out of bed because I get distracted once I’m up and moving.
- Journaling – I’m a talkative person. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something or trying to understand something I write it out in a prayer form addressed to God.
- Creative Work – Baking, sewing, coloring, art or anything that involves working with my hands also slows down my mind. I find “crafty things” can help center me and lead me into a quiet space which makes room for God.
- The Liturgy of the Hours – Sometimes I need the words to direct my prayer. The ritual and pattern can be helpful. It’s easy to pray alone or with others.
- Singing—When I’m in the car I often sing along with my “God music.” I often qualify under the “joyful noise” category of singers.
- Resting in God’s Presence – It helps to practice being quiet with God, simply resting in God’s presence. Lighting a candle or ringing a bell can be a good way to mark a beginning to this quiet time. It’s okay if it’s only for a few minutes. I often start my quiet time by announcing to God that I’m going to begin our quiet time now: “Here I am, turning my heart and mind toward you.” (Like God doesn’t know! But it works for me. J)
- God’s Creation can reveal or remind us of God’s presence. Let simply being outdoors lead you to reflection and prayer and feel free to be creative. For example, for me the wind teasing wisps of hair out of my ponytail and into my face (instead of being annoying) can be a reminder that despite my best attempts, God’s in control, not me.
- Faith sharing – Do you have a soul friend or someone you can share with? Someone with whom you can practice seeing God’s presence with? Committing to sharing with someone else can help me to remain faithful.
Trust that God is working in your life even if it seems like nothing is happening. One of the wisdom people in my life reminds me regularly, “Remember to be gentle with yourself.” Ultimately God does all the work, we just show up faithfully and do the best we can.
May we all be willing to let go of whatever holds us back and keeps us from giving away what we have to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Image by Janet Haverkamp, OSF, used with permission
Sarah Kohles, OSF
Sarah Kohles is a Sister of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, originally from Baytown, Texas. She has an BA in Theology from Briar Cliff University and has ministered in the faith formation of all ages in parishes in Iowa, Illinois, and Texas. Sarah also has served in campus ministry, hospice and has taught 7th grade religion. She is on the Core Team for Giving Voice, a national organization for younger women religious. Currently, she is working on an MA in Theology in Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological Union.