May 2014

This month, Bill reflects upon 'Wisdom', 'Understanding', and 'Knowledge'.
 

A quick reminder about Reflection.  In the practice of Reflection, we 'mull over', we 'ponder on', we 'inwardly ruminate', we 'consider', short quotations. Our aim is to get the maximum value out of these sayings. I have found that repeating the quotation, slowly and deliberately several times is a helpful way of Reflecting. In addition, some may find it useful to have a pen and paper nearby. In the writing process one undergraduate came back to me beaming, saying that he has experienced his "first thoughts ever!"

 

The aim of Reflection is a high one; to enable us to work out our own unique wholeness, and to experience life in the fullest possible way. I have selected four gifts of the Holy Spirit: 'Wisdom', 'Understanding', 'Knowledge', and 'Power'. These are all highly relevant for everyday living and can enrich our lives enormously.

 

Wisdom

 

“Great is wisdom; infinite is the value of wisdom. It cannot be exaggerated; it is the highest achievement of man.”  Thomas Carlyle
 
“Wisdom is not cheaply won. It is achieved through hard sacrifice and discipline, through the endurance of conflict and pain.” Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – one time a Fellow of All Souls, and President of India

 

“Wisdom…is a knowledge exercised in finding out the way to perfect happiness, by discerning man’s (& woman’s) real wants and sovereign desires.” Thomas Traherne
 
“It is part of the Christian spiritual tradition that God dwells in the centre of every man (& woman), an unseen, largely unknown Strength and Wisdom, moving him to be human, to grow and to expand his humanity to the utmost of its capacity.” Christopher Bryant SSJE
 
“Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2.3

 

 

Understanding

 

“It is with the soul that we grasp the essence of another human being, not with the mind, not even with the heart.” Henry Miller
 
“To realize how difficult, agonizing, is the process of understanding and how long it takes.” Han Suyin
 
“He understood the leprosy of the leper, the darkness of the blind, the fierce misery of those who live for pleasure, the strange poverty of the rich.” Oscar Wilde
 
“We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling.” C.G. Jung
 
“Effects of (Reflective) prayer – increased physical buoyancy, greater intellectual vigour, moral stamina, and a deep understanding of the realities underlying human relationships.” Alexis Carrel
 
“I want, by understanding myself, to understand others. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming.” Katherine Mansfield

 

 

Knowledge

 

“The aim of meditation…is to come to know him through the realization that our very being is penetrated with his knowledge and love for us.” Thomas Merton
 
“To know Him therefore as He is, is to frame the most beautiful idea in all Worlds.” Thomas Traherne
 
“The knowledge of the secret godliness that each one of us bears within him (her)” Herman Hesse
 
“Knowledge is not something to be packed away in some corner of our brain, but what enters into our being, colours our emotion, haunts our soul, and is as close to us as life itself.” Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
 
“And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3.19

 

All these Reflections have come from A Still More Excellent Way - a compilation published by me about a year ago. In it are 26 gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, each one having about 140 short expressions or quotes. There are about 3000 of them, enough to last a lifetime! If you wish to acquire a copy contact me through Univ, or email william.sykes@univ.ox.ac.uk. Cost £12.50.

 

Also for those of you who were in a Reflection Group during your time in Univ. I am selling off the material used in those groups. There are five volumes – Visions of Faith, Visions of Love, Visions of Hope, Visions of Grace and Visions of Glory. Each volume has 300 pages, and the cost is £10 a copy. There is also a shortened version of these five books, called The Canterbury Book of Spiritual Quotations, at £14.99. Again email me if you wish to purchase these books.

 

A final Reflection: "Religion is not the easy way out. It is the difficult way in!"

 

In the Reflection Groups I used to run in Univ I advised those belonging to other faiths and non-Christians, if they found specifically 'Christian' quotes not to their liking, move on and concentrate on the other quotations. The same applies here.