Virtue of the Week: Understanding

UnderstandingAs I watch the presidential conventions it occurs to me that we all could use a little more understanding In this world today. It makes me think about the three wise men.

The three wise men, or the Magi were astrologers, soothsayers, magicians, advisors to kings, priests and prophets in their culture. They were seekers after truth, the intellectual elite of their day. Something must have grabbed their attention for them to have traveled so far from their privileged origins. They followed a star that portended the birth of a king. They came to worship him with their treasures: gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They sacrificed their complacency, their reputation, their comfortable life style, in order to make this journey.

These mysterious figures represent for us the willingness to take a journey into the unknown, being led by what evidence they had, uncertain as it was, and to persevere until they reached the goal they had set before themselves. They wanted to get the wisdom, the understanding, the insight, that would reward them with answers to their questions and fulfillment for their souls.

If we are wise men and women we will be seekers after such truth, engaged on a quest to obtain understanding. We will seek answers to the questions we have about life. We will be willing to move forward in our lives, from one stage to another, seeking to grow in faith, hope and love. It will be a search for meaning and purpose. We want to make sense of this life, we want to understand the universe, we want to know ourselves and what makes us tick, we want to contribute to human flourishing, we want to leave this place better for having lived in it, we want to feel that our lives have been valuable, and that we have matured and grown spiritually, that we have lived our lives to the full. We want to avoid making bad decisions. We want to know who and what we can trust.

The Magi were restless to learn. They were willing to get on the road, and invest in a journey that would ultimately cost them a lot of time and treasure. They were willing to give their best to reach their goal.

We are given the same opportunities, if not more than they had. We have before us the opportunity to learn about every facet of life: about our mind, our emotions, our sensations, our will, our intuition, our attitudes, our behavior and our beliefs. Life is a journey in which we can grow in understanding and wisdom. We have the means to widen the range of our experiences. We can develop new and ever more healthy attitudes and emotions. We can sharpen our spiritual intuitions. We all can learn to live virtuously.