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  • Writer's picturePastor Liz

Seeking Words of Wisdom | Advent II

Last week we began our series, Seeking Words of Wisdom, an exploration of Holy Wisdom, this feminine embodiment of the Holy. “God’s confidant and architect, a source of endless delight.” “God’s spotless mirror reflecting eternal light.”

Wisdom invites all who can hear her to embrace Wisdom,"To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.” Anyone, and everyone, are called to embrace her, to welcome wisdom, to welcome the eternal light. From “Generation after generation She slips into holy souls, Making them friends of God and prophets…"

Wisdom is the way to and the way of, she is the journey and the destination. She is a way of being and living. When we embrace Wisdom we are embodying wisdom. We embody the light and hope that comes through Holy Wisdom.

Today we will explore this call to embrace and welcome Wisdom.

What it means to welcome Wisdom?

The writing in Proverbs goes on,

On the hills along the road,

at the crossroads, she takes her stand;

beside the city gates of town,

in the gates themselves,

she cries out,

People everywhere,

I’m calling out to you!

I cry out to all humankind!

Wisdom goes to the very center of town, the places that are busy and bustling, the places where every one goes. Her call is to all people, not just the rulers and leaders, those who would already be considered to be wise, but to all people.

She is not hard to find, She makes herself readily available, she is in the midst of the business of life. She isn’t hold up in the temple far away somewhere, she is right down in the center of it all. She at the mall on a Saturday before Christmas. She at the concert venue, She is down at the farmers market and she is at the grocery store, she is where the people are. She is everywhere, in all places.

In The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature, Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s translates Proverbs 8:2

She stands upon the most desolate peak,

and the busiest highway,

at every intersection,

gate, and doorway[1]

In the hustle and rushing of these places she calls above the noise and the din, or maybe it’s better to say that she calls through it. Even in the quiet and desolate places, she has to call through the nosiness of our own minds, which sometimes is much louder than any external noise. “She calls above the din, but the din is of [our] own making, and [our] natural response is to increase the noise.”[2]

So, while she isn’t quiet, wherever we are, we have to quiet the business within our hearts, minds and souls to be able to hear her.

To seek wisdom is to quiet the din within our hearts, minds and souls.

These places, the intersections, the city gates, the busy highways, these are places where all people pass through. You can’t go anywhere without passing through the city gate, it is the epicenter of life, and so this text speaks of a call that goes to all people.

Rich and poor. Young and old. The call of wisdom, the call to wisdom, is for all people. Wisdom invites those who have it all figured out, and those who are stumbling. Kings and peasants. The educated and the uneducated. The immigrant and the self-proclaimed patriot. The fool and the prophet. “For Wisdom there are only two kinds of people— the wise and foolish. The wise listen to Her, the foolish ignore Her, but She is available to both at any time. The fool who seeks Wisdom is always welcome, and in time will become wise.”[3]

All people are invited to seek, see, dwell and live in harmony with Wisdom. She is not something you pray to, or something you choose, “you simply see Her, and work in harmony with Her.”

She is ready to welcome you anytime, at any point in your journey. I imagine her

welcoming each person with the greeting, “I’m so glad you’ve come”. It may take you a life-time, or you may be a child, and for each and every one the welcome is the same, “I’m so glad you’ve come”.

So what does it mean to welcome wisdom? How do we dwell in her? Rabbi Rami Shapiro answers this question,

The way to Wisdom is Wisdom Herself. You do not work your way toward Her; you take hold of Her from the beginning. As your relationship deepens, your clarity of seeing improves… The Way of Wisdom is study, observation, and clear perception. What you study, observe, and perceive is Wisdom as well, for She is both the Way to and the Way of. Wisdom “knows and understands all things” because She is the creative energy through which God fashions all things. To know Her is to know the Way of all things. But you cannot study [Wisdom] in the abstract, for there is no abstract with Her. You study [Wisdom] by studying life and the myriad living beings that comprise life.”[4]

…Since She isn’t separate from creation, your love of Her is a love of nature. You know Her by knowing how She manifests in the world as the world. You know Her, the Way of life, when you know the ways of the living.[5]

You dwell in Wisdom by dwelling in life. By living a life of intentionality. Of being present to all the life brings, being attentive to all the living beings that cross your path, because Wisdom dwells in and through them all.

To seek wisdom is to be present and intentional in life.

But why might we want to follow wisdom?

I always struggle with the use of scripture in a way feels like it tries sell me something.

I believe the scriptures are the stories of people’s own experience of the Holy and so for the writers of these Wisdom texts, they use Wisdom’s voice to speak of what comes from following wisdom. We, of course, are just sort of galloping through these writings, exploring highlights, but if you read through them one of the things I particularly appreciate is that they speak of following wisdom in positive. So much of the predominate Christian voice has been one of fear-mongering, follow Jesus or you will parish, confess your sins or you will end up in hell. It’s based in negativity and fear.

These wisdom texts, while they do warn of what comes from ignoring Wisdom’s call, they primarily speak of what comes from following Her.

Proverbs 8:32– 36.

Listen to Me: Follow Me and be happy.

Practice My discipline and grow wise.

Abandon cynicism and doubt.

I bring joy to those who listen;

I bring happiness to those who are mindful of Me …

Find Me and find life.

Find Me and find grace.[6]

To embrace Wisdom is to embrace life. A life of joy and happiness that comes from being attuned to the wonder of the world, present in the moment, connected to all things in and through Wisdom.

Practicing a life of Wisdom is to enjoy the created world around us. To delight in deep friendships. To experience joy and delight, just as Wisdom delights in humankind. Wisdom offers an opportunity for all people, to deepen, our relationships with God, embodied in Wisdom and embodied in each other. When we live lives of connection, collaboration, and relationship we experience a greater since of belonging, joy and love.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all moments are joy-filled. Sadness, grief, depression all still exist and are valid expressions of a well lived, wisdom-infused life. Wisdom is present in the heartache, the uncertainty, the worry and anxiety. We cannot experience the highs and joys of life, without the lows and sadness of life. To numb or avoid one, by default numbs and avoids the other as well.

Wisdom’s call is to live attentive and present to the full breadth of life.

In these weeks of Advent, this Christmas season, and beyond, we seek Wisdom’s love and joy for our lives, with our lives, though our lives, for the world. “Generation after generation She slips into holy souls, Making them friends of God and prophets…” Remembering that as Rabbi Sharpio writes, “A friend of God is one who dwells in Wisdom. A prophet of God is one who shows others how to do the same.”[7] By answering Wisdom’s call, we become prophets of Wisdom in this world. We become wisdom in this world. Through our communities, relationships and actions in the world we bring and embody Wisdom to our world. That full-breadth of life wisdom. Showing up in the love and joy. And showing up in the struggle. Companioning each other through life. A life of, and with, Holy Wisdom.

[1] Rami Shapiro. The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) (Kindle Locations 979-980). Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

[2] Rami Shapiro. (Kindle Locations 987-988).

[3] Rami Shapiro. (Kindle Locations 328-329).

[4] Rami Shapiro. (Kindle Locations 382-386).

[5] Rami Shapiro. (Kindle Locations 398-400).

[6] Rami Shapiro. Kindle Locations 1115-1120

[7] Rami Shapiro. Kindle Locations 875-876).

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