Holiness in our Midst: Session 51

Holiness in our MidstSESSION LI: ON WISE PERSONS

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Who are three wise persons who have touched your life? What gifts have they brought to you?

In the Christmas Story, I’ve always been intrigued by the three wise men who came from the East, bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh, to worship the baby Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-12). They remain intriguing characters, eliciting many questions: Where did they come from? How did they know Jesus was worthy of worship? How did they find their way to the manger? What made them wise?

Their story prompts the above questions about naming three wise persons enlivening my world and the gifts they have carried to me. I would answer differently in other eras of my life, but these persons come to mind now after a year of national political chaos:

1. Garrison Keillor, the recently-retired radio broadcaster and creator of the variety show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” brought me the gift of laughter on Saturday nights for more than 30 years. His delightful “Lake Wobegon” characters showcase both his understanding of small-town blue-collar workers and his elegant mind. His humorous take on the most tragic of events has made life more bearable for me. His modeling of the value and power of a well-told story influenced me to create platforms for persons to share their personal stories.

2. Gwen Ifill, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, showed the world uncommon wisdom in her role as moderator of the PBS program, “Washington Week in Review.” Hearing her speak at Iowa State University inspired me to listen to other political voices. I valued her ability to moderate difficult conversations and national debates without taking sides. I missed her news commentary during this difficult election season, when she was off the air. Unfortunately, she died Nov. 14.

3. My great uncle, the late Dr. Ralph Wise of Springfield, IL had a special way of imparting his wisdom to me without lecturing. Just out of high school, I told him that I wanted to be a doctor like him. We were in the car with his six kids when we had this conversation. Instead of telling me I wasn’t cut out to be a doctor, he simply asked me a series of questions: “Did you try to mend butterfly wings when you were a little girl? Did you bandage the knees of your playmates when they fell? Did you run toward the boy who fell off the monkey bars on the jungle gym?” I had to say ‘no’ to his questions. He said that he was born to be a doctor, but that I was born to be a writer, perhaps a journalist. He reminded me that everywhere I went, I recorded my actions and carried a camera with me. That day, he detoured to the nearest drug store and bought me a whole packet of pencils (with erasers, he said) and a pad of paper. Looking back, his actions that day set me on the path of doing what I am good at rather than what others think I should do. And that gift of discernment has made all the difference.

1. Read the above reflection.
2. Write about the wise persons in your life. What gifts have they carried to you?

1. Read aloud Session LI.
2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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