On a recent visit to the hospital for a minor test, the attending nurse asked me to verify the information on my hospital ID bracelet. I repeated my birthdate and then added, “yep, still old”, to which the kind nurse replied, “that’s not old, that’s wisdom.” Her sweet comment immediately made me smile. As I recalled her comment later, I pondered the meaning of wisdom as we age, where it comes from, and how to pass on this virtue to my grandchildren.
When my own children were young and accused me of nagging, I would often say, “I’m not nagging, I’m imparting wisdom.” My wisdom came from the fact that I had “survived” what they were going through. Now as a grandparent, I am tapping into a deeper source of wisdom.
Deep wisdom is a gift from God. It is not just something that we have acquired along the way like a good pair of shoes or a favorite overcoat. Proverbs 3:32 speaks of the “Hidden Counsel” of God. Have you had those moments where you comforted someone and knew that the words were not yours alone? This is wisdom given to you by God. It is often based in a wellspring of prayer, reading the Scripture, and listening to other grandparents, but it is mainly hearing the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
To be strategic in passing on our faith, we cannot rely only on our personal experiences. We need to see things the way God sees them, choosing our words wisely, listening to the voice of the Spirit.
Many years ago as I was saying bedtime prayers with our young granddaughter, she asked me how I knew that God was always with us. I told her that God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. In her three-year-old wisdom she replied, “But that’s not all he sent. He sent the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Eight Men.” It took me a minute to figure this out, but then I chuckled inwardly and said, “Yes, and the Amen”.
My granddaughter and I have both recounted that story in talking about the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. She is getting married this year and my prayer for her now is that she continues to embrace the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit as she begins her own family.
For my part, I pray for wisdom every day and seek to cultivate it in my role as a grandparent wishing to pass on my faith.
Marilyn Henry is the grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of one. She is the International Ministry Coordinator of the Catholic Grandparents Association based in Cypress, Texas.