Wisdom Secretly

               For behold, you look for truth deep within me, and will make me understand wisdom secretly       Psalm 51: 7

 Σοφíα, (Sophia) Greek for wisdom is the root of my name, and I think I have been on a quest for wisdom ever since the name was given to me.  Let’s go to that great source of knowledge, Wikipedia, for a definition:

Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, requiring control of one’s emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions.  A comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action.

The verse from Psalm 51, which is read every year on Ash Wednesday, holds out the hope that lying within each of us is the ability to comprehend truth and act upon things wisely. As with all the ways that God is present in our lives, sometimes wisdom requires us to listen and to be open to what others can teach us.  I find that it is often a fleeting moment in my day that goes by unnoticed until I recall sometime later that another’s words or actions demonstrated a wisdom that became apparent upon reflection.

* * *

I recently found some useful bits of wisdom in an article from the January 28th edition of The New Yorker.  In writing about a topic that boggles my mind in the way all technology does, Adam Gopnik wrote about one man’s work to create 3-D recordings.  3-D printing has of course been in the news a great deal lately, and the idea of printing out a gun or a steak-knife are vaguely comprehensible, if somewhat reminiscent to me of the 60’s cartoon world of the Jetson’s.  But 3-D sound?

Gopnik writes about the process and the goals of such an endeavor, but concludes that music is actually built on the “expressiveness of error” and that there is an inherent and “vital role of the not-too-perfect in our pleasures.”  The wisdom of artistry lies in knowing when to make something slightly imperfect – a bit of vibrato here and a slight bending of the pitch there.   True art is “the perfected imperfection.”  The human heart would surely feel the wrongness of technology’s perfected imperfections.

Without letting us off the hook in our striving for perfection, I find great wisdom, and some relief, in the idea that beauty is to be found in the imperfections of those things – and people – that we care about most.  My hope is that secreted somewhere in me there is an actual understanding of that wisdom.


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