Time is an elusive thing. Among other things, time is fleeting. We look up and a whole decade has passed; perhaps we wonder what it is we have to show for it. Trees have rings. They develop rings that show their age, once they’re cut down. We develop wrinkles that show our age, and we don’t have to be cut down!
When I was in high school, before I had wrinkles, I took driver’s ed one summer; it was the only way my folks would sign for me to get a license. The class was filled with high school kids. There was a machine that tested our reflexes: it showed a visual stimulus or it produced a sound, and we were supposed to press down on the “brakes.” Then it recorded our time. The teacher put everyone’s time on the board. I was pretty quick. We were all pretty quick. Then the teacher wrote down the average time for people of different ages—twenties, thirties, forties, etc. We were much faster. We were sure, then, that we would be excellent and safe drivers. Then the teacher wrote down accident rates based on age. You guessed it! Those teenagers, us, with the very fast reflexes had the highest accident rate. We didn’t want to admit it, but our teacher was clear: we had a lot to learn. We needed to learn judgment. We were really without much in the way of wisdom.
With experience, with time, we hope to develop wisdom. Our reflexes slow down, it’s true, but with experience, we know what to expect. As for me, I am now more than halfway through my life. I lean forward, I hope, and I pray, and I urge the world to come to a time when a person is judged by the content of his or her character, and not by skin color. I look for that time, but I have lived long enough, I have experienced much; I no longer expect righteousness to come easily.
The Rev. Hollis Wright, Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Western Slope Faith Leaders Table