From Anxiety to Wisdom

From Anxiety to Wisdom
Pentecost 16, Proverbs 1:20-33; Mark 8:27-38
I have heard them describing this time
as an Age of Anxiety.
It would take a conversion of soul
to become Wisdom’s Century.
There are plenty alive who display
technological mastery.
Do you know of some sages revered
for insightful integrity?

Yet the manifest perils we face
which induce such anxiety
on occasions are known to call forth
a serene equanimity.
Can we find a philosopher’s stone,
making gold from base substances?
Could it be that we need to accept
that as creatures we’re vulnerable,
and it’s futile to try to defend
or disguise our fragility?

So though Jesus knew suffering and death
awaited his ministry,
Simon Peter refused to accept
such a harsh ignominity.
Thus already one chosen as rock,
and aware of divinity,
thinks refusal might somehow avert
the Messiah’s dark destiny.
It’s no wonder he later says “No!”
when accused of relationship!
In his fear he can’t come to accept
what his courage demands of him:
to dispense with his daydreams of power
trampling over the enemy.

So he had to be broken and weep
at the lapse in his faithfulness,
and forgiven, surrender to love,
face an ultimate helplessness.
Peter learnt how to carry his cross
when he saw that through tragedy
all must walk at the last, even God
come to share our humanity.

So if weakness accepted might stand
with no need to retaliate,
and the pain of the cheek that we turn
shames the violence of tyranny,
then perhaps we find meaning that brings
us close to divinity.
Our humility grows as we come
to the source of self-emptying,
who is also the way to fulfil
our authentic identity,
as we let ourselves grow into truth
universal and merciful.
Then at last though we suffer and die
we emerge into joyfulness,
and God’s wisdom is fully revealed,
displacing anxiety.

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