There is an old saying that “wisdom is the comb that life gives you when your hair has fallen out”.

Another phrase often used is “being wise after the event”.

Anthony Trollope wrote that the wisdom of those of mature years comes from reflecting on our failures rather than considering our successes. A sentiment echoed by Alexander Pope who said “by experience (we are) wise”.

My point is that acquired wisdom comes about as the result of what we have learned from the lives we have lived – and more often than not it comes from the mistakes we have made rather than the times we have prospered. Personally, I never thought I would look back at the times when I have cried – and find myself laughing. Or think of the times when I have laughed – and find myself crying. As the years go by, however, this seems to happen to me more and more frequently.

Whilst I believe that you are never too old to gain more wisdom – indeed, you only become old when you STOP learning! – the duty of the older man is to give wise counsel to the younger man. The sad aspect of our times is that the young seem more interested in a legacy of money than of wisdom, character and faith. But, like us, they will learn as they get older!

So, Lord, teach us to number our days: that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
The Book of Common Prayer 1662