Channels of Wisdom

Listening and learning from the older generation

Channels of Wisdom

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Mary’s visit to Elizabeth shortly after the annunciation is usually understood as a mission to assist her elder relative in preparation for the birth of John the Baptist. Another way to look at this, however, is that the visit also afforded Elizabeth the opportunity to pass down wisdom to her younger kinswoman, a tradition of sharing that has gone on throughout human history.

In a special way, women are usually the memory keepers in the family. They collect photographs, keep scrapbooks, and record family history. Women readily share their memories and stories of the heart, passing down family lore and wisdom from one generation to the next. Our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers have a wealth of knowledge and mother wit to share with us about how to raise our daughters and sons and how to influence our world today and for the future.

The Scriptures reflect the value of having elders in our midst. The book of Sirach says, “How attractive is sound judgment in the gray-haired, and for the aged to possess good counsel! How attractive is wisdom in the aged… . Rich experience is the crown of the aged, and their boast is the fear of the Lord” (25:4-6).

We owe so much to the women (and men) who have gone before us. They have seen more changes in the world than any generation before them. If you haven’t already, seek out your elders—whether they are a part of your family, your church, or your community—and ask them to share with you from the rich well of their life experiences. Perhaps you could initiate a tradition in your parish or neighborhood senior center, so that seniors could tell their stories and share the lessons they have learned in their lives with younger generations. Their wisdom will enrich you, and you will be the better for it—and so will your children and your children’s children.

Anne Costa is a spiritual coach, motivational speaker, and best-selling author of Lord, I Hurt! and Refresh Me, Lord! Meditations to Renew a Woman’s Spirit from which this excerpt is taken. You can purchase her books at