Tapping into the Wisdom Within

Today I invite you to tap into the wisdom you have within yourself, a wisdom you may not even know you have. Here’s how I came up with this little exercise.

Recently I was reading about Nicholas Black Elk, a revered Native American. As some of you may know, he was a Catholic catechist whose cause for canonization was opened in 2017. Black Elk said these simple words:

 “Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.”

I liked that. It was such a little sentence, yet it held significant meaning(s) as I pondered it during my prayer. Afterward, I got an idea. I decided to substitute three other words for dreams… wiser… and waking. I wrote down this sentence outline:

“Sometimes ____ are/is ____ than ____.”

Then I began filling in the blanks with all kinds of words.

Maybe you might want to try it. Just fill in the blanks with three words or phrases and see what you get. Don’t think too much. Brainstorm instead. Try to come up with several different sentences within just a few minutes. To help you get started, I will share three of my sentences with you, adding a few comments.

Sometimes walking is more rewarding than riding. (Walking is usually slower than riding, less frantic than speeding on a freeway… When we’re walking, we’re closer to the natural world—to its sights, sounds, smells, and feelings… When we’re walking, we’re in solidarity with millions of other of people currently living on our planet who walk almost everywhere they go… We’re in solidarity with history too. Jesus, for example, walked. Virtually everywhere. Only once do the gospels show him riding on a donkey—on his way into Jerusalem shortly before his death.)

Sometimes patience is stronger than power. (It takes strength to be patient, that is, to wait, to let go of control, to retain hope in a situation that appears to be hopeless… Yet just think of all those important human activities that require patience: being a good spouse, a good parent, a good community member, a good teacher, a good gardener, a good cook, a good leader… Actually, maybe patience IS power…)

Sometimes camaraderie is more important than productivity. (Getting along well with others… working well together… having a sense of belonging… doing things to foster community… these things often have more value than output, yield, or profit. My grandnephew, for example, fresh out of college, just got his first job. One of the reasons he chose the particular workplace, he said, was because “I liked the people I would be working with.”)

Okay. Now it’s your turn. Tap into that wisdom that lives inside of you. See what emerges. And (as always) I invite you to share some of your sentences with the rest of us. You do not have to comment on the sentence(s) you share unless you want to. I hope we get quite a few responses below! Let’s share our collective wisdom together!

PS #1: I will be giving a talk on HOPE this Saturday, October 5, at St. John of the Cross Parish (formerly St. Felicitas) from 10:00 am to noon. The church is located on Richmond Road in Euclid, Ohio. If you can afford two hours on a Saturday morning, I’d love to see you there.

PS #2: I will be giving a weekend retreat at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, PA October 18-20. The theme is “Celebrating Four Gifts of Autumn: Beauty, Harvest, Letting Go, and Hope.” The retreat starts Friday at 7:00 pm and ends Sunday at 11:00 am. Call 610-558-6152 or check their website for details. I’d love to celebrate Autumn with you in Aston!

PS #3: Thank you to all who came to our Chicken (and rib) Barbecue and Boutique this past Sunday. We Sisters of Notre Dame really appreciate your support. And I enjoyed seeing so many friends and relatives again! Next year’s BBQ will be Sunday, September 27. Mark your calendars!

Our song today might seem at first to be a contradiction. It’s entitled “Dream Small” by Josh Wilson. Aren’t we supposed to dream big? But there’s wisdom in these lyrics. Often it is the small, simple, loving acts that change the world. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Do small things with great love.”

Please share your thoughts below:


  1. Kathleen Magiera on September 30, 2019 at 5:27 am

    What a blessed idea Sister!

    Sometimes hope is better than darkness.

    Sometimes letting go is better than holding on tight.

    Sometimes believing is better than seeing.


  2. Barbara Erdmann on September 30, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing. Some times having less is better than having more.

  3. Belinda Neill-Hartigan on September 30, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Sometimes listening is better than speaking. Peace

  4. Ann Bartell on September 30, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Sometimes a phone call is better than a text message.
    Sometimes a face-to-face conversation is better than a phone call.
    Sometimes a warm hug is better than spoken words.

  5. Carol on September 30, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Sometimes animals are wiser than people
    Sometimes listening is more important than being heard
    Sometimes acceptance is a better choice than tolerance
    Sometimes an invitation is more prudent than waiting to be asked
    Sometimes doing less is better than doing more

  6. Lisa Barton on September 30, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Sometimes joy is better than happiness.

  7. Barbara on September 30, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Sometimes kindness is better than eating

    Sometimes a loving smile is better than speaking

    • Beverly on October 3, 2019 at 5:09 pm

      Both of these touched my heart. If we could all practice this just even once a day….the world would be a better place. Thank you.

  8. Mary M Nausadis on September 30, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Sometimes the waning years are better than the burgeoning ones.

    Sometimes being the student is better than being the teacher.

    Sometimes being on the outside is better than being on the inside.

  9. Deb Walsh on September 30, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Sometimes illness is a greater benefit than health. We are reminded of our temporal human body and our eternal souls. It can reconnect us to what is truly important in our lives and enlighten the eyes of our hearts.

  10. Suzanne on September 30, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Sometimes taking the stairs is better than taking the elevator.
    Good exercise!

    Sometimes being with nature is better than being indoors on a beautiful fall day.
    Delight in the senses outdoors!

  11. John E Hopkins on September 30, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Sometimes the moon is brighter than the sun.

    All of these are so wonderful, Sr. Melannie!

  12. Annmarie on September 30, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Sometimes grief is lighter than truth.

  13. Thomas DeFreitas on September 30, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Sometimes the questions are wiser than the answers.

    Sometimes the facts are falser than the truth.

    Sometimes love is truer than the truth.

    Sometimes the journey is lovelier than the destination.

    Sometimes blessings are more subversive than canon law.

    Sometimes truancy is smarter than perfect attendance!

    Sometimes listening is more eloquent than speaking.

    Sometimes music is more divine than prayer.

    Sometimes religion is colder than permafrost.

    Sometimes the moon is moonlier.

    Sometimes October, praise heaven, and sometimes November.

    Sometimes the stars.

  14. Annie on September 30, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    “Find little ways where only you can help…” I love that line in the song.

    Sometimes taking a break is more productive than continuing to work on a problem.

    Sometimes God’s purpose for you that day may be achieved at the coffee break, or the quiet moment in prayer, rather than the action you planned.

    Thanks, Melannie! A good exercise to ponder wisdom.

  15. Martin J Louis on October 1, 2019 at 9:47 am

    At all times it is freer to be a captive of Jesus than a captive of society

  16. Mary E Strickland on October 1, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Sometimes dying to self is better than being right.

  17. Stan Davisson on October 3, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Sometimes hearing Sr. Melannie share her wisdom about hope is better than sleeping in on Saturday morning. We look forward to seeing you at St. John of the Cross parish on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Make that all the time…

  18. Beverly on October 3, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Wow!!! What great sayings! I loved the song! They both gave me a sense of joy!
    Thank you!

  19. Elizabeth Hillegas on October 6, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Sometimes action is more loving than words.

    Thank you Sister Melannie; you always make my heart sing.

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