on sunday Mike, a pastor at our church, preached a sermon about spiritual gifts. usually a sermon on this topic touches on the different "gifts" (teaching, encouraging, serving, exhortation, prophecy, etc.), then explains how you know you have these gifts, or how they should be used, and a "spiritual gifts inventory" is sometimes handed out, and a passionate plea is given about how each member of the church needs to use their gifts in order for the church to work effectively.
this is what i was expecting. this is not what i heard.
instead, Mike, got right down to the root of the matter - why does God's Spirit gift us in certain ways? what's the point? sometimes we have gifts that come naturally to us, sometimes we have them for a specific time or place - but all of us are gifted in some way to do something, or be something. short answer: the reason we have gifts is to give them, to use them as a means of extending the grace we have received to others.
there's no ego here. no comparing my gifts with another's. there's no need - every gifting has the same purpose. we, each of us, are a gift to God's people and the world in unique ways. we are each presents, put in place for the good of all.
therefore the question isn't "what's my gift?", but "how am i giving myself?".
i apologize for the little sermonette there, but that is the context to my ruminating on wisdom. and the short story is: i want to be wise. i want wisdom to be one of my gifts to my community.
as i was gardening on monday, stewing on this thought, i glanced up at my husband. he was sitting in the front yard reading theology. i thought about the fact that he loves, (LOVES) to read theology. he loves to read autobiographies. he loves documentaries. my husband is a gleaner of information and the wisdom of others.
i glanced over at the book i'm reading. no, that is a lie. i'm not reading it, i'm listening to it as an audiobook. i am not even making the effort to use my eyes to decipher letters. it's from the "young adult fiction" section at the library, and is about a future distopian society where everyone gets plastic surgery to make them beautiful at the age of 16, thus making everyone "equal" and eradicating crime. i won't say this is as far from theology as you can get, but it's definitely past the mid-line between wisdom and stupidity.
suddenly something became clear: i may want to be wise, but i'm not drawn to gleaning wisdom.
i'm drawn to story and beauty and romance, to delicious smells and tastes, to laughter and colour and lilting melodies and complex harmonies. i can honestly stare at the colour of our kitchen walls and feel this great sense of thankfulness. i will shove my nose inside a rose and feel pleasure ripple through me. i paint for an hour and feel restored, or sing with scott and feel blessed beyond measure.
i am gifted with the arts. i love the arts and the arts love me. they rejuvenate me and push me to praise.
i thought about this while weeding around our japanese maple and came to the conclusion that i need to just let go of my wisdom fantasies. surely harry potter and van dyke brown (my favourite brown) and the indigo girls will not end in me being wise.
and then today i was talking to scott about the whole internal process and he said - "you're kidding! you'll never believe what i was reading while you were thinking that "and he started to read to me from his theology book:
one of the urgent needs of our day is to recover an understanding of the interplay of wisdom with the arts - to speak to how the arts are vital to the formation of a Christian mind, the cultivation of a Christian imagination and the nurturing of a deep love for the good, the noble, the excellent and the worthy of praise. (Gordon Smith, "Called to be Saints").
well, would you look at that! the arts are vital to the formation of a Christian mind. hallelujah- i'm not a lost cause after all!! and maybe (maybe) my young adult fiction isn't an embarrassment - at least it's an inventive and interesting story that's not filled with sex. and maybe my dream of my paintings pulling others closer to God is not a fantasy.
maybe the Spirit of God is using the arts to build wisdom in me. a love for beauty, a passion for imagination, a gratitude for creation: a trust in my Creator.
i must hear more of Gordon Smith! i'll get Scott to read the book and give me a summary. maybe in the form of a dance, or a haiku.