Mom, what will you write about today?
Her question is a gift; a jewel in my palm.
She sits at the bar looking very nearly sixteen–golden head bent over her phone and all those little flyaways catching the early light; a cup of coffee just south of her hand, steaming; a dozen bracelets sliding along her arm as she moves her thumbs against the screen. And this is one of my once-silent ones (they said maybe she’d never speak), this stunning thing now always–if at times awkwardly–connecting to someone. She talks to me; she talks to them; she tries–always tries–to love.
I lift clean coffee mugs out of the dishwasher, tilting them toward the sink to drain off the puddles of water collected, as always, on top. The warm water drips over my fingers. Silly moments like this and I think about the tiniest things I know now, the activities routine to me, things other mothers didn’t know or don’t experience still; and then about things my children and their children will understand that I can’t even yet imagine. I’ve tried explaining wisdom to my children—how it’s collected over time like tiny threads or pieces added slowly until the whole picture comes a little clearer into view. I’ve told them that wisdom has history, a cumulative depth in application that distinguishes it from knowledge; that–and this especially–God gives wisdom generously to those who ask, without finding fault. It’s important to me that they understand that we can know something without being very wise about it, that wisdom is a gift, that it doesn’t just happen by accident. God gives when we ask, and without blaming us for our lack.
Riley looks up at me, pausing over her message. She’s still trying, trying, to make the leap from asking questions to having conversations. But then, most of us still wobble on the edge of that same chasm, sometimes physically, often spiritually. Riley trains her blue eyes on my face, those ocean eyes that seem always anxious to look away from so much drowning information, so much uncertainty. Her gaze wanders against her will and she pulls it back to me. Her face betrays her, admitting the effort. I’m going to look at you, her expression says defiantly, just as those beautiful eyes glance sharply right.
I know that if I comment on her effort, even to excuse, it will only discourage her. “I don’t know yet,” I tell her, because I almost never do. The substance of my writing is usually something revealed to me in the moment of creation, very rarely before. For me, creativity is itself a conversation. I ask; God gives. “What do you think I should write about?”
She laughs, and it sounds like freedom, and suddenly it is not so hard for her to look at me. I stop my work and stand still, watching her. This is one of those moments when I can feel the Spirit of God in both of us, blowing through like the wind. “I have no idea,” she says immediately. Her joy overflows, recklessly, as her bright eyes settle on me, lit with a calm and serious certitude. Be still and know that I am God. “You should write whatever God tells you to write.”
And there it is, and so lightly given: wisdom, surpassing knowledge and apart from it, and with it the freedom to acknowledge Him as the I AM; myself as the one limited. Riley is my constant reminder of God’s ability to shatter what we think we know in favor of a beauty well beyond it. God knows. God knows absolutely all, sees with complete and unblemished clarity, views the entire tapestry –his own art–at the finish. I ask; He gives. Unless you become like children, God says, and this is why, because children have the wisdom to admit that they don’t know but that He does. Lean not on your own understanding is not an admonition for the uninformed, but an admonition for those of us who have knowledge without the wisdom to appreciate its limits. I stand watching Riley’s smile glitter up the room, thinking about how simply she said that, how freely and easily she plunked it down, that truth. And I wonder what would happen if, with wisdom, this is what we spoke over each other, the building thing we offered routinely: I have no idea. You should do what God tells you to do. And what if maybe, right there in the middle of our wondering over inconceivability we wisely stopped talking long enough to ask Him together, long enough to leave it just there in His hands? Maybe we’d laugh more often—wild, reckless, and long—at the days to come, and that laughter would be the sound of our freedom.