I need wisdom.
More than anything in my life, I need to be able to see my way forward, to evaluate the choices ahead of me. I've always been a consumer of knowledge, someone who couldn't leave well enough alone, who had to tease apart the inner workings of things. That process leaves me with a huge gap - the gap between what is and what could be. And that gap requires wisdom.
So I went searching for wisdom among ancient books, among the classics and the apocrypha and forgotten literature. But their wisdom can really only be seen once you've understood the experiences they were writing from.
I learned from my parents and grandparents. I challenged their thinking, and tested it against my own. I debated local preachers, and hung around old people, hoping to gain some scraps of their condensed life experience.
I'd heard the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". So I eagerly waited. This student was ready. But the teacher never showed up.
Where are you teacher? Why have you forsaken me?
The internet was coming into its own, and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, so I eagerly took to obscure discussion groups and bizarre websites and anonymous chat rooms. I was bathed in new information. I had so much to study, so much to pick apart and put back together again.
But no one could provide me wisdom.
Churches have long positioned themselves as purveyors of wisdom. And if any one of them had been able to keep up with my slate of questions, I probably would have fallen under their spell. I wouldn't need answers - just the space to ask the things I wonder, and get feedback. But churches are quite busy targeting our culture's lowest common denominator, and rarely have space for the consideration of other thoughts.
It's probably just as well. This whole process taught me that I couldn't look to other people for answers - or even for context. It taught me that sometimes, people are wrong, even if they are experts in their field. It showed me that sometimes I have to go with what I see, even if everyone is saying something else.
And hey, maybe that's wisdom after all.