Retroactive Wisdom

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. – James 1:5

boxes in the hall

I’m still overwhelmed. Even consistent meditation cannot extract me easily from over-obligation. I wonder if I can ask for wisdom, retroactively?

The foolishness I reel from today actually rolled out of my mouth nine months ago or more, when I said yes to too many projects. When my calendar pages looked so clean and clear. I forgot that they really, already, had obligations attached – like PTA meetings, and science fair projects, and a mother-in-law’s birthday, things that should carry the joy of relationship, but, in the context of too much, become one more burden that I might drop. Silly me, foolish me… to think that I might forget that I would be living day-to-day realities in even the unmarked calendar months ahead.

So, I sit again, on the floor of the warehouse, shifting amid packages and bundles, trying to figure out how to lift them all and carry them one more day down this corridor. If I stack them just right, the larger ones on the bottom and the smaller ones on top, maybe I can balance them a little better.

I attack the pile. But when I find the largest package, the one that’s supposed to form the base, has a sloping top and a bump on one side. It won’t do for stacking. The next one is wrapped in a slippery outer covering and it won’t stay in place anyway. It always demands attention, even when its not even really ready for the next step. One more plan begins to unravel before me.

Ah! A backpack, I think that could be my solution. I run to the shelves at the back of the warehouse where I have stored my camping equipment and pull out my backpack. When I return to the pile, I am able to stuff many of the smaller packages into the pockets and corners of the backpack. But even when pack is full, two or three of the largest bundles still remain on the floor.

I shoulder the pack, pick up a bundle with each arm and scoot the third bundle along the floor in front of me with my foot. Maybe I can go this way, for just a while… And then the binding on one of the bundles breaks and as I turn to catch it, I accidentally swing the backpack up against the shelving and break something in one of the bundles in the pack. It begins to leak.

I drop the load again, in despair, pulling the packages out of my pack until I come to the one that is leaking. What a mess. I bury my head in my hands, covering my eyes, and sigh, deeply.

There is a figure beside me in the aisle. I can feel a presence even though I haven’t looked up. Indeed, now I can hear it, faintly humming a silly tune. I look up, surprised, and a little indignant at the flippancy of that tune. It is the Narnian dwarf who has accompanied me before in my meditations. “It’s you.” I say, begrudging him his cheerfulness. (If you travel with me, you ought to at least groan a little.)

“It’s me.” he says, in what seems to me to be an altogether too self-satisfied response. He is cleaning his fingernails with his pocketknife. He shows no urgency to move forward.

“Did you come to help me?” I ask. I might as well take advantage of his ability to work, even if his presence irks me.

“If you want me to help, I would be glad to.”

I look at him, exasperated. Of course I want him to help… what does he think? “I could use a hand.”

He reaches over to a bundle near his leg and, with the tip of his pocketknife, he cuts the cord that binds it. It falls open on the floor, scattering its contents. I am astounded. This is no help!

He reaches out and begins to pick through the contents, arranging the items on the paper wrapping. He reaches his knife out toward another bundle, but I stop him. “What are you doing?” I demand. “I need to be moving forward.”

“I thought you wanted my help.”

“I wanted you to help me carry this stuff forward. Now you have only complicated things by splitting open this package. This delay will only put me farther behind.” I move to rebundle the package, but this time he stops me. He is deadly serious, and looks me straight in the eye.

“You are in trouble.” He says simply. “Unless you accept help, you will fail. There is no question that you cannot carry this load alone. It is you who have wasted time in trying your vain schemes. You have been unwilling to let go long enough to see the solutions which are before you. I can show them to you, but you must release the load to me, to do with as I will.”

“But it is my load, my responsibility.”

“If that is your decision, I must go. It is your call.” He waits my answer.

“What are you going to do with these bundles?” I ask.

“I will show you when you release them to me. You must trust me, or not. Accept my help, or not. Make up your mind.”

I am torn — between no hope and no control — but it is not a difficult choice, only a hard reality that I must face. “There is nothing for me to hold on to,” I reply, “since I have already dropped the load. Please take it. Please show me what I must do.”

“The first bundle we will leave behind is here,” he says and reaches into my chest and pulls out a bundle which is triple bound with cords. They bleed when he cuts them. Inside, hope and fear are mixed together in a steaming mass.

“Can I keep the hope?” I ask with some timidity. “I’m not sure that I can travel far without hope.”

“Not this hope,” He replies. “This hope finds its substance in circumstance and good fortune. It is fickle and turns quickly into fear. Satan continually twists them inside you, using whichever one will keep you occupied, will keep you vainly pushing on in blind, directionless effort. They are his lash upon your soul which drives you onward.” The dwarf tosses the bundle to the ground and it bursts into flame and is consumed.

“Carry this instead,” he says, and reaches into his tunic. He pulls out a small package which glows with secret light. He places it my hands.

“What is it?” I ask and carefully tug at the tie. When it is opened the light escapes and flies around me. It falls upon my head and melts its way throughout my being. I am filled with light.

“It is the anointing of the Lord. It holds his love and his redemption. With this, your hope is secure, for it rests upon the unshakable. This is the hope which can give you strength to move forward.”

“And now, for these other packages.” He marches over to the pack and begins to work. I, for the moment, am content to rest within the light; to watch and accept the work of the Dwarf. Perhaps wisdom will reveal itself to me in his efforts. Perhaps it has already.

2/7/95

[cropped from photo by Matt Cornock per cc 2.0]

2 thoughts on “Retroactive Wisdom

    • Mitch, I thank you for the nomination for this blog award – and want you to know it is encouraging to get a vote of confidence from someone whose blog I admire. I am declining to participate only because of the rules of the award itself – which require that I post in a way that sits a little outside my current style and personal commitments for my posts on this blog. Thanks again. Sincerely.

      Like

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