Several of the kids I teach have said to me lately that I am the smartest person they know. This after I pull off some seemingly miraculous deed like spelling Fahrenheit without the help of a dictionary or explaining negative numbers. The likelihood of their statement being true is slim, but it does get me thinking about things. When I was their age, I can remember being so thankful for the people I knew who could provide answers to the many questions of an inquisitive kid. I had a mental storehouse of who to ask about what and/or where to find a book about it in the library. I wonder how many other kids memorized the Dewey decimal classification system just to make finding a topic easier when a curiosity arose?
As I have grown up, however, I have seen that the people I want to be around the most aren’t always the smartest. I want to be with the curious, the passionate, the reasoned, the informed, the prayerful, the thinking, the contemplative, the willing to be a little wacky, the willing to be wrong, the dig-in-and-let’s-find-out crowd…those who “make links,” the root meaning of intelligence.
It is one of the things I wish for most for my students—that they eventually come to worry less about “smart” and more about open, willing, logical, reasonable, and occasionally, faith-fully, daring.
Madeleine L’Engle has a glorious poem for Advent called The Irrational Season—“This is the irrational season/when love bloomed bright and wild./ If Mary had been filled with reason,/ there’d have been no room for the child.”
I thought about all of this while writing Advent III. May we all enjoy the wonder.
Along the Way
I have made the acquaintance of galaxies
and know of the whispers
shared between stones
that hold light and memory within.
I have offered my dancing
in exchange for these spectacles
born in the starlight, taught by the moon,
now beguiling my senses.
All this while Reason
hears a lullaby hummed
between the grit and the grandeur of hope.