Getting Wisdom

Wisdom cries out in the street;
                        in the squares she raises her voice.
            At the busiest corner she cries out;
                        at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
            “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
            How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
                        and fools hate knowledge? 
                                                                 –Proverbs 1:20-22 (NRSV)

Ignorance is bliss, so they say. Watching the news while eating dinner can leave one feeling disgusted and nauseous. War, destruction, violence, hunger, fear… the list goes on. There are some things that I’d rather not know, some things that I’d rather not deal with.

Then there are things that we know that are pointless. Like why do some see blue and black and not white and gold? And which celebrity is dating who? Or what’s the latest video to go viral on YouTube? You know, thought-provoking stuff.

While discussing a sermon (ok, it was my sermon) on Proverbs 8, someone asked what our reaction would be to seeing a woman on the street, yelling to random people as they pass by, “How long, stupid, how long will you ignore wisdom?!” How many of us would hurriedly walk by or call the police? How many of us would actually pay attention?

It got me thinking, how would Woman Wisdom look to us today? A TED talk? A well-written article or a yoga retreat? Or would she look more like our mother or grandmother? Our sister or aunt? Our pastor or teacher? Our friend?

Because, if Wisdom was a person, I would have to take time to get to know her. I would have to speak to her and have a conversation. Maybe I would have her over for a meal or share a cup of tea. I would have to listen to her story and tell my own. Maybe we will struggle at times to understand each other, but if love prevails, there will eventually be peace.

In Proverbs, the young Israelite men are supposed to call Wisdom their sister-bride and sit at her door. They are to choose her over all other enticing, seductive women. That’s no easy choice, especially when immediate pleasure is available. Can I blame those men for ignoring her? Especially when I would cross over to the other side of the street just to avoid a confrontation with Wisdom. She’s just so… intense.

Wisdom is like that good friend who asks difficult questions that you would rather not answer. Or that preacher who points out something you’ve forgotten about God. Or that mother who reminds you what you have neglected to do. Wisdom speaks. But who will listen? Who will pay the cost to answer her call?

Ignorance is bliss, but it is our eventual downfall if we don’t heed Wisdom’s voice. I’m on a journey to get wisdom — God’s wisdom. Lord knows I need her, because I often think I don’t. Thankfully, she delights in us like a mother with her baby. May we also delight in her.

This was a contribution to Asian American Women on Leadership, a gathering of Asian American Women for leadership renewal and development.