by Theresa Scott
“…It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…”
~Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”
So I go to visit the wise woman. She’s someone I visit every month or so; sometimes I don’t see her for six months, and then I feel the need to chat with her, so I show up on her doorstep. The wise woman is a bit of a mystic. She writes poetry, she meditates, she lives a quiet life. Does gardening, pats her cat, that sort of thing.
She’s not someone you’d particularly notice when you are shopping in the grocery store. You’d walk right past her to the oranges. When she’s driving down the road, you’d probably feel impatient driving behind her because she’s kind of slow moving when behind the wheel. You guessed it about her car, too: best way to describe it is ‘nondescript.’
You can’t sell her a lot of anything, because she has everything she needs, and more. When she enters a room, she moves a bit slowly, a bit elegantly, and she’s probably wearing something okay, but not necessarily really fashionable, or anything that stands out and screams, “Hey, look at me! I’m a fascinating celebrity who knows a lot and can help you straighten out your life. Just ask me!” Nope, definitely not someone like that.
So, fortunately for me, this wise woman is in my life. I’ve had wise women in my life for about, oh, thirty years. Different wise women at different times. I watch them listen to me; I listen to them. Sometimes I ask them dumb questions like the question I asked the Wise Woman of the West about ten years ago. I asked her: how do you learn patience?
So I visit with the wise woman, and then I go home and I think. I think about my life, and the amazingness of being alive; of being alive at this time in the planet’s history; of being on this beautiful blue and green planet with the water and the air and the people and the love. Of what an immense value this is to me. And I think about the value of other people’s lives. To them. To the people who love them. I think about the quietness of her life, the wholeness of it; the unknowing parts too, because she readily admits when she doesn’t know something I’ve asked her.
I like having someone in my life to help me focus on what is important. Someone who isn’t about advertising, or making money, or promotion, or what to do, or living at a fast pace, or a faster pace than the next person, or out to attain excellence and perfection: all the things our society throws at us, telling us what we need, what we should do, how we should think. And we take it in–unthinking and unreflecting. At least I do. For awhile. Then I pull it out and look at it and, usually, I discard it. But I don’t discard what I hear from the wise woman. Her words I absorb slowly and take them in and think about them.
So after I’ve talked with her and I’ve thought about what she’s said, or hasn’t said, then I call someone who was once my life, and whom I haven’t spoken to for a long time, and I gain some understanding, and yes, some forgiveness. And when I am waiting to buy my bag of oranges at the grocery store, I stand in the longest line, so I can learn patience.