Wisdom in the ordinary
Proverbs 1: 20-33 (NRSVA)
20 Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
21 At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
25 and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
27 when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
32 For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’
Imagine this passage as a Hollywood musical:
A woman enters the main square of a town, with quaint shops and cobbles. She moves with ease, twirls and bows, sashays and kicks in time with the intriguing accompanying music. She is dressed in strong colours and her smile is engaging.
We see her enter the town hall, stand at the back of a meeting; join the queue at the Baker’s; walk through the park — she kicks the football back to the boys who run off arguing whether a foul had been committed or not. She stands by the midwife as a new-born child is given into its mother’s arms. She sits on the hillside, beside the forlorn young man holding a job rejection letter…
The woman Wisdom, moves through the town, noticing each person about their business, speaking to them, being there for them.
Wisdom is found not only in centres of power and learning, but also amongst ordinary places and people — available to all, for she walks everywhere. Wisdom comes to bring encouragement and guidance about the decisions of the day — not everyone will see her, or seek her.
St Ignatius of Loyola offers us a simple spiritual practice to prayerfully and honestly ask ourselves two questions each day to uncover God’s wisdom speaking to us (The Examen):
‘For what am I most grateful today?’ and ‘For what am I least grateful today?’
These questions stem from the belief that God is always calling us to choose life, and be in line with his heart of generosity and love, and that peace and joy are given to us when we follow God’s voice of wisdom.
Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit as Counsellor – to teach them the way to live in step with God. We have received the Holy Spirit to be our gentle guide. Will we take time today to listen to the deep promptings of the Holy Spirit?
As I walk through this ordinary day,
Show me its gift, and the wisdom planted there.
Call me on to Life, Freedom, Courage, Hope and Love.