Incarnating Information

Madeline L’Engle wrote that “We’ve lost much of the richness of that word know.” We know something, when we can represent it, as it is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. In other words, we don’t just know about it, we know it. For example, I don’t just know about my son, I know him. I know he loves to read alone before his day begins; I know he’s competitive in everything he does; and I know his greatest strength is kindness—his ability to feel what others feel. I know him. I know my son because of my direct experience with him. And so, if our minds are going to be renewed, if we’re to have knowledge, we must not just be informed about truth, we must have a relationship with it. Think of all the books we’ve read, for all their wonder and benefit, they cannot provide direct experience or an interactive relationship. For books to help us, we must enflesh them. We must incarnate the information inside them. “If we read William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life,” writes Richard Foster, “let’s be sure that the focus of our study is not a book but the experience of a devout and holy life.” We can study prayer, but we’ll never know it until we give ourselves to it over long stretches of our lives. “When the Day of Judgement comes” wrote Thomas a Kempis, “we shall be examined about what we have done, not about what we have read.”