Is this clown wise because he is reading a book? Are the illiterate necessarily stupid? Are books the best source of truth? Not at all.
In this life, the true medium of the best message has been, is and always will be—sorrow. Carl Jung and Rollo May are emphatic on this point. Add St. John of the Cross, and Melville too: ‘The truest of men was the Man of Sorrows.’
So don’t pity this sad clown. He is learning, and Shakespeare put it well: ‘Knowledge has a bloody entrance.’
Painless learning is a delusion—especially that learning which must begin with self. ‘Lord,’ cried St. Augustine, ‘May I know myself, may I know Thee.’ A courageous prayer and a necessary one, for anyone who would really know God.
For, to look into one’s heart and search out one’s true motives; to face, as in a mirror, the real blotches, wrinkles and wastes of one’s spirit is not a discipline for a fool. And only he is truly wise who sees himself as nearly as he is, and accepts his gifts without smugness, his handicaps without regret.
Yes, indeed, wisdom is what’s left, when all your courses and readings are forgotten.
From Meditations on Some Art I Have Loved
By Fr. Hilary Sweeney, C.P.