10/14/12, 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wisdom 7:7-11,  Hebrews 4:12-13,  Mark 10:17-30 


   There are actually seven books in the Bible which are classified as “Wisdom Books”.   They are the Book of Job, the Book of Psalms, the Book of Proverbs, the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Book of Sirach, and the Book of Wisdom, from which our first reading came.

      King Solomon who reigned in Israel from 970 - 931 b.c., and who is lauded as the “wisest of all”, is thought to have actually authored three of those books:  Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes.  However the Book of Wisdom was written in Alexandria, Egypt, many years after Solomon’s death, about 100 years before the birth of Christ. The author styled the book as though King Solomon himself was actually speaking the words.  Solomon was anointed king when he was but a youth and his father David lay dying.  Solomon asked Yahweh for an understanding heart with which to judge the people:


“I prayed, and Wisdom was given to me.

I called for help, and the Spirit of Wisdom came to my aid.

I valued Wisdom even above my throne and scepter

     and all my great wealth was nothing next to this...”



And Yahweh answered:


“Since you have asked for this

and not for long life nor wealth for yourself,

nor have you asked for the death of your enemies,

but for discernment in administering justice,

I will do what you have asked...”



     Like the rich young man in our Gospel reading today, I imagine that all of us have sought the Wisdom of God at one time or another in our lives -- particularly at points of transition, or times of difficulty, or when we’ve exhausted all of our other resources.  In fact, the scriptures say that if any one of us is lacking in Wisdom, he/she should ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly.  It says that God will give it to you.

     Accordingly, as one lacking in Wisdom, I certainly have been qualified to ask God for the gift a number of times throughout my life, and I have done so.  Each time I asked for wisdom, God followed through with the most amazing, surprising insights which answered all my questions, in ways I never could have imagined, and which to me were utterly beautiful and delightful even to this day.  I know that what I understand as a message from God may go right past someone else.  God speaks to each one of us in our own special language. Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is like the wind.  No one knows from where it comes or where it goes.  But when the Holy Wind blows gently (or not so gently) in your face you know that you have been touched by God.

     In hindsight, as I look back on the particular instances where I prayed for Wisdom, I have to say that some my prayers may have been terribly presumptuous.  In fact, my standing here today is testament to God’s immense patience, kindliness and generosity with me.

     Today, I thought I would share one of those occasions when the Wind blew on me.


   

  About 35 years ago, we lived in the country near Terrebonne, Oregon.  Our property bordered some BLM land.  I could look out the window and see Broken Top and Mt. Washington in the distance.  My four children were all in school, and  Al worked for the telephone company. 

     But my life was meaningless.  It seemed as though everything I did was undone by the end of the day.  The meals I prepared were either eaten or rejected.  The house I cleaned got messed up again.  The clothes I washed and folded became dirty and scattered all over the floor.  

     Everyone in my family was aspiring to become something.  They were growing.  I was standing still, facilitating everybody else’s life, but not having a life of my own.

     One morning I got up, and I managed to get dressed, but then completely ran out of things to do.  Nothing was worth the effort.  At the bedroom door I didn’t know whether to turn to the right or to the left.  Should I sit on the sofa?  Should I stand in the kitchen?  I didn’t even know how to occupy the next ten minutes.   The day was unbearable, so I went back to bed..

     Eventually, I decided to get up, go for a walk, and put the matter before God.  It was my intention to wander aimlessly in the woods until I found a direction and an answer to my predicament.

     It had snowed during the night, possibly 6 or 8 inches.  The sky was blue, and the morning was crisp and bright.  Unlike the snows here in the valley which is heavy and moist, the snow in Terrebonne was cold, light and fluffy.  The Juniper branches drooped.  Sage and Rabbit bushes were white lumps on the landscape.  Tracks of small creatures made lace-like patterns in the snow.  Behind me, I could see my own less delicate trail plowing an aimless path through the woods.

     About 15 minutes into my walk the sun gleamed brilliantly on the snow.  I had to squint my eyes against the brightness of it.  To my amazement I thought I had caught sight of the crystalline formations of individual snow flakes.  Of course,  I knew that these crystal formations existed, but I thought they could only be seen under a microscope or with the aid of a reading glass, or with some other visual enhancement of some sort.

      But there I was, looking at snow stars with my naked eyes.  I swooshed my hand through them, and hundreds of perfect, fragile stars clung to my black glove and scattered themselves all over my navy colored coat.  This was so mesmerized that I have no idea how long I spent there in the woods, knocking the snow off the trees, throwing it up in the air, getting it all over myself. 

     Eventually, I realized that I was cold, and so I began heading back toward the house.  Everything  within view was beautiful and white, covered with snow.  I could hardly wait to get back home, and to all the small, formerly meaningless things that I was supposed to be doing with my life -- jillions and jillions of little things, fragile passing things, things which make other things clean and beautiful, things which are everywhere and cover everything, things like like snow stars which generally go unseen, and gleam only when the sun shines on them in a certain way.


     This life experience is one for which I am very grateful, and of which I will never forget.  I have never again called into question the meaning of the work I do nor the significance of my life.


By Marcia Lee