My grandmother use to confuse me when she’d comment about a particular friend of my grandfather’s. She’d look at the man as he was driving away from their home after a visit and say “He’s a smart boy but he ain’t got no horse sense.”
“Horse sense?” I’d hear that and wonder what in heaven’s name that could mean. It was years later I learned that this was a way of saying that someone may have a lot of education but they didn’t have the practical wisdom that comes from learning from your experiences.
Why do you think we constantly trip up over the same mistakes over and over again? Part of the reason is we simply don’t learn from the mistakes of the past. Or we foolishly think that “this time” it won’t turn out the same way it has the countless times before! Ah, the “joys” of delusion! It’s the gift that just keeps on giving. No wonder the old saying states “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
But attaining wisdom isn’t as easy as simply learning a lesson. An internal work has to be done first to develop a “wakefulness” to your actions, attitudes, and choices. It takes a willingness to not spend your time comparing yourself to others, like “Why do they always seem to succeed and I always fail?” And then the deadly knife in the back of any hope of wisdom is uttered “IT’S NOT FAIR!” Bye, bye, wisdom. Better luck next time.
This is why I love reading in the Proverbs. It’s wise word after wise word, all inviting me to the very “wakefulness” I will need in my own life to be wise and make wise choices and exercise my will wisely. It is a head start on a peaceful life.
Just look at our Scripture Lesson today (by the way, there is great wisdom and real spiritual treasures for us as we have been blessed with these First Testament readings during Great Lent!). It’s found in Proverbs 10:1-22. Just look at some of these life principles to embrace and pass on to your children. Wisdom like “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. A son who gathers in summer is prudent, but a son who sleeps in harvest brings shame.” Proverbs 10:4-5 And like “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:11-12
The whole passage is filled with these kinds of insights and head starts on living well. Come on, we all love a short cut! Here’s a massive short cut to the very wakefulness you need to break the back of bad behaviors AND pass on a strong example to your children.
The passage ends with these words “The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22. Of course these aren’t the temporary riches that pass away or lose value or are eaten up by inflation, but the riches that accrue in a life becoming more wise, more peaceful, more Christ-like. Those are the ONLY riches that outlast our own mortality.
Today, are you awake? Are you sufficiently self-aware that you can see mistakes coming before you make them? Would you like to learn how to be awake like that? Read Proverbs and don’t simply press your eyes to the words, but actually ask God to drive this wisdom, this wakefulness, deep into your heart. Make the, admittedly scary, interior journey of discovery that allows you to examine your motives, your attitudes, your fears, and your choices, and make this journey toward wakefulness as a wise person with some “horse sense!” During Great Lent make an appointment with your spiritual father for confession. Attend the Pre-sanctified liturgies. Have someone in your life that you are able to share all your deepest thoughts. Get wisdom! Be the free person you were made to be!
P.S. Please pray for me as I travel today to Los Angeles for our Lenten presentation at St. Sophia’s Cathedral, and pray for my Presvytera and girls while I am away from them. Also pray the Ancient Faith Today program on Sunday night is blessed. And thank you for helping this ministry grow.