Wisdom. What is Wisdom? How do we go about finding it? How do we go about making it? In the Hebrew Bible, Wisdom is referred to hundreds of times – always reverently. And Wisdom, in the Hebrew Bible is longed for, sought after, and can always be depended upon... but Wisdom is not always honored by the greater culture, and not always heeded by the people.
Defining Wisdom is a little tough, right? In the Hebrew Bible, Wisdom feels like more than just knowledge or experience or good judgment. Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible feels like a spiritual journey, a life-long quest, something far greater than what any one person can ever achieve on their own. In the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom, as we have seen in our reading this evening, even takes on a life of her own. She is personified as a feminine aspect of God. She is described as being present with God even before Creation and she participates in God’s activity in the world.
When I look back on my Sunday School education as a kid – aside from warnings that my apple juice might be laced with LSD (which I talked about this summer) the overwhelming sentiment I got out the experience was “God is nice. So, you be nice too.”
I don’t know if any of you received a similar message at some point. But part of growing up and moving forward into adult spirituality, involves confronting whether the statement, “God is nice,” really captures the full picture of the God of the universe, the God of the Bible, the God of our hearts, the God who calls us to action.
Labor Day Weekend is the powerhouse long weekend. It looms large on our calendars and in our imaginations – no other national holiday transitions us so completely. Summer fun is almost over, to be replaced with September’s seriousness: School back in session, sand blowing across the deserted beaches, the sounds of children’s laughter replaced by accusation and outrage in wave after wave of political attack ads. Oh. After Labor Day, we sober up, we’re not allowed to wear white anymore, the carousels and the ice cream stands pull down their shutters.
God’s vacation is over. She’ll be back on the job soon! We realize we can’t get away with slacking off anymore – at least not until after Christmas. We come back to church en masse and we are ready. Ready for what?
Have you ever overheard someone talking on their cellphone nastily to some loved one? You only hear the one side of the conversation, but you start to imagine yourself on the other end of the phone. And you start to feel wronged. You imagine that you’re the one on the receiving end of all that venom. And you start to feel it pumping in your veins.
Has someone ever sat down on the spot on the subway you were patiently waiting for? You’re a New Yorker, your face doesn’t even slip. You take it on the chin. “I didn’t really want to sit there anyway! After all, I’m getting in off in just 17 stops! Nothing you can do can phase me!” And two days later. Brushing your teeth before bed. You can still feel it.
What do you all think of walls? Most of us have some walls. We all interact with walls in public and in private – our walls and city walls and other people’s walls – all day every day. What do walls do? Well, walls are architecture and they can be art. They divide up the human world into two categories that are relatively rare in the natural world – inside and outside.
Walls work best when applied exclusively to human space. Walls create bedrooms and houses, sanctuaries and schools – every familial, cultural, or practical space that you have ever enjoyed has been made possible in part by the application of walls. We’re surrounded by walls right now. We couldn’t be here without them. Walls help you to know you have arrived and they allow you to leave again and leave things behind to return to another time. Walls offer us greater freedom and life by organizing our privacy, our relationships, our work, and our time. Walls are rightly applied to space.