Wisdom and Wants

A friend of mine has four children between the ages of 5 and 10 (the youngest two are twins).  A response constantly heard from him to his children is “it’s nice to want things.”  As a adult I laugh often as I hear him say this in response to something like “but I want to play on the computer” or “I want another brownie”.  Yet it’s not so funny when he has said this to me – in response to “I just want this day to be over”, or “I just want to the church to support this!”
It’s so easy for us to list our wants.  In todays Old Testament lesson, when God asked what he wanted, King Solomon responded not with the typical list of riches, wealth, power, or position.
Solomon asked God to “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” – 1 Kings 3:9  
An understanding mind
able to discern between good and evil
Wow.  Not necessarily always on the top of my ask lists.  King Solomon is regarded as a very wise man.  As disciple seek God’s wisdom today among the confusion that is the world, Solomon gives a humble and wise request.  May we all seek from God an understanding mind.  Instead of rushing to evaluate and judge – that we make first seek to understand, especially that which may be different.
I direct a Summer Camp in Rogers Park serving over 50 families for 5 weeks each summer.  To accomplish this, we have a barrage of staff and volunteers from all over the Chicagoland area and across the United States.  We celebrated with some of the youth staff by treating them to lunch this week.  8 youth from around the city ages 16-18 served as counselors, art leaders, and game masters providing daily care, leadership, and support to campers ages 5-15.
We went to El Famous Burrito, a favorite in Rogers Park.  With 3 latino staff (2 fluent in Spanish), and a fantastic comedic waiter, everyone figured out something to order.  (much confusion as to what exactly is a “torta”) Knowing looks and conversation about the awesomeness that is Horchata and stories of aunts homemade recipes were shared, as well as anxious looks and questions about if food would be spicy “enough”.
Throughout the meal as we shared laughter about the foods we all normally eat and stories through the summer, there were moments of great harmony and great difference. There was understanding.  It took weeks.  (The first week, they barely spoke to one another.)  Yet among a small group of latino/a, black, white, and Nigerian teens where the differences are worlds apart, the bonding and true friendship was impossible to miss.  They even got some mayo for the torta, killing it – as the waiter teased.
There is wisdom in understanding
– seeing, asking, learning, seeking to know more.
Without understand one is not able to discern right from wrong,
good from evil, or the vast areas of shadows in between.
A few years ago with another staff, similar in many ways yet so very different, I lead a hard devotion urging them to stop fighting and work together with this prayer:
serenity-prayerI still pray this prayer often.
As we walk with the young people in our lives:
– I wonder how you help guide young people in seeking understanding?
– I wonder how you walk beside them as they learn about things they can not change?
– I wonder in what ways do we support them to change things they can?
– I wonder where they seek wisdom to know the difference?
Peace ~ Deacon Erin

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