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I have heard that as people grow in age they grow in wisdom. “Yes, that fits. There is so much I know now that I didn’t know 10 or 20 years ago. Wisdom seems to fit.” It’s comforting and affirming feeling. But I wonder, “What do I do with what I’ve learned?”

The more I think about the question, I realize that true wisdom is about more, much more than what I know, what I’ve experienced. It is also about what I don’t know, who I am and yet to be, what I feel…and dream…and believe. And then I asked myself, “What IS wisdom anyway?”

Like 1+1=3, knowing+not knowing offers its own kind of synergy. Is that what’s called wisdom? Or is there even more to it? Intuition? Gut feelings? Past mistakes, accomplishments? And maybe even ideals and dreams?

All of the above … and then some.

One thing I am certain of: in earlier years I didn’t have or take the time to explore the concept, nor the temerity to apply it to myself. Getting through life’s twists and stumbles left little time to process the lessons learned. Any wisdom to be had or recognized would have to wait for later, less pressured years.

Now that those years are here, I can admit to being wiser, even though defining wisdom itself remains elusive, if only because there are still so many questions out of reach for answering. I have imagined wisdom to be as bright as a just noon sun but realize it is more like a night light at midnight. All I can do is let what I’ve learned guide me, keep me safe and pass on to others some of the lessons I have been taught.

Admittedly, I still have much to learn. What wisdom I have tells me to be open always to new experiences, to continue to believe every life has meaning, to trust a faith that frees, not entraps the spirit-self, and to respect and learn from both adversity and diversity. And finally, to see and embrace the nigh light wisdom in the words of a Portuguese proverb quoted by Thomas Merton, “God writes straight with crooked lines.”