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Grow! Grow! (Wisdom Worth Repeating)

February 7, 2012

I’m only halfway in, but thus far I have loved every word of this book. I have not heard her myself, but I am told she is one of the finest preachers alive. I do not doubt it.

I look out my windows and therre are blades pushing through dark earth all around my yard. Fiercely fighting to the surface in some of the most inhospitable corners of earth, daffodils and Lilies of the Valley somehow know when it is time to wake, time to grow. I did not tell them. I did not set an alarm. Goodness knows the weather has been fickle, unlike any mid-winter I can remember.

Yet they know. They somehow know and in this passage, the author equates the wisdom we come to possess through the steps we walk and the bridges we cross with those blades of grass fighting for life in my yard. I do not fully understand it but somehow I get it.

Grow. Grow!

In biblical terms, it is wisdom we need to live together in the world. Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when the practice succeeds and when it fails. Wise people do not have to be certain what they believe before they act. They are free to act, trusting that the practice itself will teach them what they need to know. If you are not sure what to think about washing feet, for instance, then the best way to find out is to practice washing a pair or two… Reason can only work with the experience available to it. Wisdom atrophies if it is not walked on a regular basis.

Such wisdom is far more than information. To gain it, one need more than a brain. You need a body that gets hungry, feels pain, thrills to pleasure, craves rest. This is your physical pass into the accumulated insight of all who have preceded you on this earth. To gain wisdom, you need flesh and blood, because wisdom involves bodies – and not just human bodies, but bird bodies, tree bodies, water bodies, and celestial bodies. According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its own angel bending over it whispering, “Grow! Grow!”

Barbara Brown Taylor An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 8:52 pm

    Oh, how I LOVE BBT. This book is just a gem, like her earlier memoir, “Leaving Church,” and all her collections of sermons. Some of the best stuff out there. Thank you for this reminder and for this wonderful quote. KEEP READING this woman’s stuff – it is rich.

  2. February 8, 2012 10:17 am

    Love this! And what are the name of the flowers you have on top there? We used yo have some growing wild along the side of our house in San Bernardino, and I thought they were so fairy hats our skirts.

  3. February 8, 2012 9:51 pm

    One of the finest preachers alive! I love that.

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