The tenth gift is Wisdom.

Guiding your way, wisdom will lead you
through knowledge to understanding.
May you hear its soft voice.


Just before my sixth chemotherapy treatment, when a friend suggested I read It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong, I immediately felt two things. One was an inner certainty that the cancer survivor and Tour de France winner’s book contained something that I needed to know, the second was a sensation of guidance. Although I didn’t hear any actual words, it felt as if someone was saying, Get the book and read it.  And so I did, suspecting that I would benefit from something Lance had to say about nutrition.

I began reading Lance Armstrong’s story and continued along in a normal manner until I got to page 89, when suddenly one word on the bottom of that page made my body shiver. It was then that I knew what I needed to glean from the whole book. The word was “move.”

Move,” Lance told himself.  As long as he could move he wouldn’t be so sick, he told himself.

Immediately, I understood.  I needed to “move.”

I had done many nourishing things for my body, mind, and spirit to cooperate with and to compensate for the chemotherapy, but I had not exercised…at all.  So, I added movement to my “healing tool box.” I started talking short walks and exercising gently in our swimming pool. When I did, my body responded with increased energy and a feeling of greater well-being.

That seemingly simple experience reminds me that wisdom is like a compass within us, always guiding us toward good choices.  It also reminds me to listen carefully…and I mean by that: with loving care and gratitude, not with caution….because wisdom’s “voice” is often soft and subtle.  And always, it is full of grace.

My collection of touchstone stories show wisdom at work in various ways, guiding me and others in matters large and small.  Each story reminds me to tune in, listen carefully, and pay attention to sensations in the body, coincidences, dreams, unlikely happenings, actual words…any and all the ways that wisdom might “speak.”

One incident is a time when the guiding voice of wisdom saved my life.

I was on my way to a photo shoot for the gift of courage in The Twelve Gifts of Birth book.  It was about 10 AM on I-10 in Phoenix, after the morning “rush hour” when traffic does not rush; it crawls.  The day at 10 AM on I-10, traffic was speeding along and I was in the flow, driving fast in a center lane.  All of a sudden I heard, in my body, the actual words, Move over to the far right lane, NOW!

When I heard those words, I knew I should heed them.  Without giving them a thought, I just calmly followed the directive.  But then I wondered, What was that all about?

Moments later, my front right tire blew out.  Being in the far right lane, I was able to pull directly off the road, quickly out of the flow of traffic, and come to stop safely on the shoulder. Then, three huge semi trucks rumbled by, and my car shook in their wake. I understood just how guided I was, and I trembled with gratitude.

For reflection, journaling and discussion:

1. Recall a time when you felt led to go in a certain direction or choose in a particular way. How did you experience that inner guidance? Was it through a voice? A sensation in your body? A seemingly unusual coincidence?
2. How did you respond to the guidance?
3. In what other ways do you experience the gift of wisdom?