At this time in life, I continue to seek profundity. In the ideas, thoughts and words that come my way, as well as the thoughts and words that I express. Perhaps you’ve thought the same: Wishing for spirituality, wisdom or life purpose that doesn’t float in the shallows of intellect, knowledge or honesty—like intellectual/spiritual flotsam and jetsam. Not always being satisfied with surface-skimming conversations. Knowing that others around you may be depending on your depth-of-character—and not wanting to let them down. Trying to help those coming after you understand the all-encompassing values you’ve cherished for decades.
What do I think profundity looks like? I’m pretty sure that people who have found their way to deeper wisdom are usually quiet. When I encounter them, their ideas can be like oases in an otherwise lifeless wasteland of wordiness. Platitudes don’t have a place in their vocabularies. Their words reach far, wide and deep—gathering up small universes of thought and righteousness into a larger cosmos of practical wisdom. What they express is memorable—it sticks in my mind for years afterwards. They are slow, deliberate and frugal as they share observations, counsel or comfort. What comes out of their speaking and writing is poetic and creative. When I read or hear their words, I am motivated to want to do something about what they’ve expressed. There’s something godly in their statements, and in the attributes that anchor their thinking.
Who comes to mind here? My father, Herm Glaess, my Ed. Psych professor in college, my Aunt Gladys, our adult children—all of them quiet springs of depth that continue to slake my thirst for wisdom over many decades. (Do you know people like this? Are you one of them for someone else?)
The world beyond us may be shallow, loud, trite or worse. But thanks to God’s own wisdom and continuing inspiration, there’s not a shortage of profound thought. In thousands of churches each Sunday, earnest preachers assemble the wisdom of God—in Scripture—and offer it back to their hearers in the cherished gift of sermons. Deeply wise and skilled writers—Eugene Peterson comes to mind immediately—keep offering us their deeply moving observations in works that can take weeks to read because they are so well-written, so calming, so right. Countless counselors, therapists, coaches and mentors carefully parcel out useful wisdom-for-life.
And God still places around us enough profound people that we can always find other kindred spirits—other Christ-followers looking for spirituality that burrows deeply into our souls. Those people may already be close to you, ready for you, joined to you!
So here we are, you and me, older than we used to be—Wanting to find and use words for good effect. To be profoundly helpful and profoundly generous. To be word-gifts for each other. To gather and hold tightly onto the penetrating insights of others. To leave legacies of remembered word-encounters that will outlive us, that will inspire and grace the lives of those who come after us.
You and I may spend the rest of our lives looking for spiritual depth. By God’s grace, some part of that will happen. And, perhaps surprisingly, someone will consider us to be deeply admirable, trustworthy with our word-use, understanding the spiritual life. Perhaps unknown to us, someone else may take hold of some small idea we have spoken or written into life, and name it as cherished, livable truth. Perhaps someone close will think of us as profound.
And like us, they will be satisfied….
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