Sunday, September 26, 2010
Who is she?
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-36
Who is she? I’ve never seen her here before. I walk these streets daily. I’m down here at the busy gates into town every single day, but I don’t recognize her. I’ve never noticed her before, and I think I’d notice a woman like that. I definitely noticed her today. How could I miss her? She had my spot. She was standing on my corner, right next to the gate for easy visibility. I’ve been working there for a long time, so I know the best place to be noticed, and she was definitely trying to be noticed. She put herself right there in the middle of the hustle and bustle so she could be seen and heard. She stood where only prophets and prostitutes dare to stand, but she had nothing to sell. How dare she take our prime location! Who is she?
I go there daily to do my job, to serve in the temple of Asherah. Yes, I sell myself, but I do it to make others holy. I do it so that the men can be blessed by the gods. That’s what it takes for them to get what they pray for. That’s what it takes for our land, our community to be blessed with abundance. Some women are there only to make money for themselves, but I’m there for a higher purpose. I’m there because the gods demand it. I’m there because I HAVE to be for the good of all of us. Right?
I don’t go there to shout from the corner the things I think, the ideas I have. No one would stop to listen to me if I tried. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would stop to listen to any of us women, but people stopped for her. I stopped to hear her. Who IS she?
She was talking about one of the gods, Yahweh. Only the people who follow that god seem to think it’s the only god. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how they throw all their faith in just one god. I don’t know how they can trust just their Yahweh to protect them and provide for them, to feed them and to fight for them. I don’t know how they can understand that the same god who gave birth to the earth, is the same god who greets the dead. But they do. They believe in just one god, one god who does it all.
So, she was talking about this god, her one god, like many prophets do from the exact same crossroads, but she spoke like I’ve never heard anyone speak before. She spoke like she really knew Yahweh; she knew Yahweh deeper than one person knows another. She knew Yahweh more intimately than a woman knows a man. She knew Yahweh even more personally than a parent knows a child. She is close to her god. She is definitely WITH her god, not just when she prays, not just when she is near the temple. She is with her Yahweh indefinitely. Who is she?
The people around me were mocking her at first. We all were. It’s not too often we see a woman prophesying like this. Sometimes it turns out that they’ve lost their mind, and they don’t even know what they’re saying. Other times they teach from their experience and their knowledge of what has happened before. At first we thought she was like either of these kinds of women, but slowly the murmuring started to change. It was went from mocking little comments under the breath, to disbelief, to some strange sort of belief. We didn’t know who she was, but she captivated us. She owned us while she spoke. She was calming and trustworthy, commanding and peacemaking. She was wise.
But the Wise Woman’s wisdom wasn’t human wisdom. Her knowledge and experience wasn’t of this time and place. She knew the world in a way we didn’t; she knew it from before its existence. She was there before anything else was; she was there stirring about, rejoicing and dancing as each piece was put in place. She was there when the mountains were shaped. She was there when the skies were put in place to separate the waters above from the waters below. She was there when the sea was told to come no further. She was there for all of it, and she was there even before, this Wise Woman. She was there with her one God. She was with Yahweh. Was she, is she Yahweh?
The wise woman, Sophia, they might say in the language of the city, called to them. She stood in that busy crossroad, right there at the gate to the city. She stood there where only prophets dare to stand and speak for God, and she spoke with wisdom and authority like we have never heard. She stood there and spoke and called to them, “Happy is the one that listens to me….whoever finds me finds life.” It was more than I have ever been able to offer. It is more than any of our temples dare to promise. We peddle blessings, abundant crops, a fleeting happiness or momentary excitement, but we can’t offer life. She called to them, to all who were walking through the streets that day, she called to them that they might hear her, and wait for her, and live in her wisdom.
She called to them. Was she also calling to me? I can’t imagine she would care. I mean, she is so wise, certainly she knows what little I have to offer. Certainly she knows how I spend my days, how during the night I just try to sleep away the memories of everything I’ve done. Certainly she doesn’t mean to include me in her call. It was just for the men, for the powerful, the righteous. It was just for the ones bustling to the next business deal, the ones who become holy in the temples, the ones with earthly riches and heavenly promises. It was just for the ones who know all about her god, that Yahweh. It was just for those who are on the inside already, right?
This woman, this Wise Woman, with wisdom from beyond creation, she was only calling to them right? She wasn’t calling to me?
But… but… maybe she was. If what she said is true, if what I could feel about her when she spoke is true, if she was there at the beginning of all this, if she was there when there were no depths, no springs abounding with water, if she was there before the first bits of soil were laid down, if all of this was true, then yes she was calling to me, too. The Wise Woman was calling to me. “To all that live,” she announced her good word. Right there are the gates of the city she stood, right there at the crossroads of our town, the crossroads of MY life, she stood and she cried out “To you, O people, I call.” To me, even to me, she called. Even to me, the Wise Woman spoke. Even in me she found delight, and even to me she gave new life.
The one who was there blowing over the water of creation, the one who threw the stars into the sky, the one who knows their numbers in the heavens, the one who knows their placement in the cosmos, she is calling even to me to follow. May even just a small drop of her wisdom be mine. May I walk in her way of righteousness.