True Knowledge

24 Aug

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”  ~ Socrates

Today’s quote took me back in time to my college days.  I had an English professor in seminary who used to tell us that we would be eligible for graduation the day that we were able to admit that we did not know anything.  He claimed that the true reflection of intelligence was knowing and understanding how little we knew.  As you can imagine, a lot of us students took exception to his statement.  However, as I have grown older, I have become more and more aware of how very much I still do know know.  Sometimes it can be embarrassing.  More often than not, though, it is simply an invitation to humility.

When we can admit that we do not know, we become open to knowledge that is available.  I am reminded of a discussion in one of my favorite books, The Earthsea Triology by Ursula K. LeGuin.  In the first book of the trilogy, Ged, a budding wizard who would one day became a great Archmage, was taken under the tutelage of Ogion, a great wizard of the time.  Ogion had his student follow his every step and do what he was instructed to do.  However, Ogion did not perform any wizardry.  He lived, in many ways, a quintessentially boring life.  That prompted Ged to have the following discussion with him.  From the book, we read:

Though a very silent man he [Ogion] was so mild and calm that Ged soon lost his awe of him, and in a day or two more he was bold enough to ask his master, “When will my apprenticeship begin, Sir?”
“I has begun,” said Ogion.
There was a silence, as if Ged was keeping back something he had to say. Then he said it: “But I haven’t learned anything yet!”
“Because you haven’t found out what I am teaching,” replied the mage.

There are times in our spiritual lives that we become bored with God.  We spend many an hour, day, week, or year in the practice of our faith.  We say our daily prayers.  We go to Mass.  We attend extra services.  We tithe.  We do corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Yet, we do not have a keen eye on our Maker.  Instead, we do the things we do our of a sense of obligation.  We wait and wonder when the “big spiritual awakening” will happen in our lives.  We might say the same thing to God that Ged said to Ogion, “When are you going to do something, God?”  God would tell us that He, indeed, has been doing something.  We just do know know what He is doing or teaching us.

The biggest lesson in humility we can have is to let God be God and to do all that we can to be His faithful servants.  The deeper we delve in our faith lives, the more we will realize that we do not know.  We are dependent upon God to reveal Himself and His creation to us.  There is no way that we will be able to figure it out on our own.

When we come to and embrace that understanding, we will find peace in our lives and our eyes will be opened to new knowledge and new realities.

FAITH ACTION:  Ask God for the patience you need as you deal with how much you do not know about Him and His creation.