Wisdom is not the same as knowledge or intelligence. An old saying goes, “Wisdom comes of age.” And, at times, we see young persons having suffered and describe them as “too soon wise.” Wisdom, then, is acquired.
I am so grateful to have served over eight years in leadership of Spiritual Care for Caron. I thought I knew a lot when I started. I think some of the wisdom that has come since is knowing now how little I knew then, and still.
This Parent Connection e-newsletter celebrates a wisdom phenomenon that has developed in recent years, Parent Support Groups which now are many in number. I think it’s fair to say that wisdom plays a central role in why these groups have gathered such momentum. Parents who have acquired wisdom from their own journeys make themselves available to those at various points along the journey. And, as we come to realize, it is always only one day at a time. The person sharing the wisdom of their experience as a parent with a child doing well one week may be the person seeking wisdom in the face of relapse the next.
Thus, perhaps a second truth about wisdom is that it is shared. It isn’t something you can simply buy or easily give, but in authentic presence, aspects of wisdom do get passed on.
There is a movement afoot, not organized so much as a groundswell, to call the recovery movement a “wisdom tradition.” I first was presented with this thought when it was shared by a dear friend, Fred Holmquist. One of the great scholars of the recovery tradition, Fred is an expert on AA’s founding documents and a long-time employee of what is now the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Fred and I were discussing challenges that patients and families face in accepting the emphasis on “spirituality” in recovery, and distinguishing spirituality from religion. Fred’s reference to the AA movement as a “new wisdom tradition” shocked me. Today, I am comfortable with it and believe it to be true.
What we are privileged – sadly, through our own suffering – to be a part of, whether in our Parent Group work, in formal treatment, or in seeking to follow our own recovery journey, is something that has an ancient, timeless, and precious significance. We stand in the stream of recovery, with those who have preceded us, and anticipating those who will follow. None of us speaks for the whole, probably most of us would say none of us can even understand the whole. But, we participate in it, find meaning and aid in it, and feel a sense of purpose in staying and sharing our experience, strength, and hope with others.
Let me finish, then, by honoring each of you who read this, and thanking you for joining in our wisdom-seeking path. Book learning is great. Easy answers are wonderful when they work. But, sometimes life is really difficult, and that’s when I have found that my recovery wisdom practice is most helpful. I lean in, and reach out, pray, meditate, and often just wait. Eventually, I know. And, if it seems in hindsight I have acted in error, I seek to learn, and tell my story to help others, and move on.
Thank you for being a part of our wisdom journey. You help more than you know.