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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Ecclesiastes 7: Elusiveness 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Favorite from September 13, 2008.

Wisdom and Righteousness are elusive, Qohelet tells us; and this does not surprise us.  We seek these qualities throughout our lives because they lead us to our divine self, our immortality, our infinity.  Today’s reflection invites us to seek our divine self  by looking at the inversions presented as evidence that this divinity lives in us constantly . . . it is with us, even as we go in search of it.

Perhaps we do not find this divine self because we are distracted by the cares and needs of daily living; yet it is in this quotidian life that we find the divine.  Qohelet reminds us that we best find understanding through sorrow, joy through grief, success through failure, happiness through pain, fulfillment through loss.  He further invites us to examine the life of the wicked and the idolatrous as contrasted with that of the wise and the righteous.  The former finds mirth in a present life of carefree festivity, while the later finds divinity in this life and in the next . . . through an ever-maturing communion with God.

Our divine self is elusive when we seek it with our human eye; yet it steps into full view when we drop all pretense and allow ourselves to be directed by the voice that challenges us through loss.

We find this divine self, Qohelet points out, when we put aside impatience and put on the enduring mantle of hope.  We find it when we put aside relationships in which we are the hunter and the hunted, and make the decision to enter into those that blossom with fidelity and constancy.  We find it when we commit to the worship of the one true God rather than false covenants of comfort or fame.

When we allow God to balance our lives, we journey from the dark places to the light, wisdom makes an immediate and steadfast appearance, and righteousness guards us as we weave between the stones in the obstacle path of our pilgrimage.  The divine self we seek is no longer elusive.

And so in gratitude we pray as we read.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.  Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

It is better to hearken to the wise man’s rebuke, than it is to hearken to the song of fools. Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughterGrant us your righteousness, O Lord.

Better is the patient spirit than the lofty spirit.  Show us our divine self, O Lord.

Consider the work of God.  Who can make straight what he has made crooked?  On a good day enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: both the one and the other God has made, so that man cannot find fault with him in anything.  Be not elusive, O Lord.

Amen.

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Proverbs 28: Virtues

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As we begin to close our journey through Proverbs, we reprise this Favorite from October 2009. We have explored our relationships with fools and friends, we have walked with the wise and accompanied fools who are whacked on the head. Watching Lady Wisdom build her house, we have learned that God’s heart asks for union with each of us. Exploring wise sayings of Solomon and others, we have understood that God allows us to lose and find our way. Knowing that God misses nothing and that each morning we are offered armloads of life, we continue to ask for the cure of God’s love and listen for Spirit that speaks to us within. 

Surety, Prudence, Integrity, Wisdom, Generosity, Truth, Justice

The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself.

When we create monsters out of nothing we give in to our human fears.

If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many; but with a prudent man it knows security. 

Our rashness can divide us more than it unites us.

Better a poor man who walks in integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.

Power and treasure appear to be safe havens; yet they crumble to corruption and cannot withstand the simplicity of truth and honesty.

He who rebukes a man gets more thanks in the end than one with a flattering tongue.

The truth always comes out in the end . . . and is precious.

Happy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Prudence is necessary; hardness is our downfall.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Generosity is a sign of a trusting heart.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is safe.

Patience and stillness bring their just rewards.

When the wicked gain pre-eminence, other men hide; but at their fall the just flourish. 

In the end, God alone is enough . . .

Words to live by; virtues to cherish; axioms to settle the mind; maxims to sooth the troubled heart.

When we compare translations of these verses, we allow God’s wisdom to enter our hearts. 

 

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Proverbs 17: A Whack on the Head 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A friend of mine once spoke of her belief that God has to get louder when we persist in ignoring the voice that calls us. God may have to hit us over the head, she once observed, if that is the only way we will listen. This Chapter of Proverbs seems to affirm that belief. In THE MESSAGE translation of verses 1-16, we find the subtitle, A Whack on the Head. The verses we find there are nuggets of gold in present societies around the world.

Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
    are equally abhorrent to God.

Too many political, social and religious leaders step forward with the hope that their followers will make excuses for serious conflicts of interest and lack of expertise. Too many followers are happy to oblige.

What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
    They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!

So many hopeful leaders put aside the school of life and ignore the lessons life brings them. So many followers look for information that affirms their already-established views rather than winnowing through too much information and then making sound decisions.

Verses 17-28 of this Chapter carry the subtitle, One Who Knows Much Says Little. How wise we might be if we took the advice we find here. We spend a great deal of time, energy, and funds looking for wisdom when it is so often close at hand. We travel great distances searching for gurus and sages. We spend large amounts of our physical, fiscal and mental resources looking for quick fixes when the simple strategy of trusting God is always at hand.

The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

We avoid conflict or bull our way through tumult rather than allowing God to carry us in Christ’s open and generous arms. We put aside our relationship with the Spirit in order to spend more time with the world. This Chapter of proverbs has advice that is well worth our time and energy.

Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.

Today, let us consider the words we think and say, and the actions we do and do not complete. And let us determine to live always by trusting the wisdom of God more than we trust our own.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we allow them to awaken us as if they were a whack on the head.

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Proverbs 16: Plans of the Heart – A Reprise 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today, as we journey through Proverbs, we reprise a post from several years ago in which we see that . . . Everything Belongs.

Man may make plans in his heart, but what the tongue utters is from the Lord.  All the ways of man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves the spirit.  Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  The Lord has made everything for his own ends, even the wicked for the evil day . . . In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Humans have a fertile imagination; and weaving a story about ourselves is part of what we do as we form our self-concept.  We are often anxious about the future:  What am I to do?  Where am I to go?  What am I to say?  How am I to act?  We may worry about the past:  Why was I so blind?  How did I miss what they were saying?  And all the time we worry . . . we are missing the blessed present . . . with its opportunity to open our hearts to God’s economy.  The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the best plans are those guided by God.  Trusting in divine providence is so very difficult . . . yet so essential to serene living.

Better a little with virtue, than a large income with injustice . . . How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!  To acquire understanding is more desirable than silver . . . A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city.

Wisdom is our best instructor.  Living a life characterized by prudence and temperance is difficult in a society which values the supersize in everything.  It is easy to overdo: too much food, too much drink, too much money spent on heat or air conditioning, too much television, too many movies, too many books, too many people making claims on our time, too much aloneness, too much neglect, too much fuss.  Is there such a thing as too much justice?  Too much hope?  Too much faith or hope?  Too much love?  Finding moderation and balance is a challenge; but our model is the Christ, who interchanged periods of heavy activity with times of prayer and retreat . . . leaving his sacred heart open to God’s plan.

By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by fear [love] of the Lord man avoids evil.

It is never too late to be open to a conversion of the heart.  There is always time to enter through the narrow gate, to step onto the narrow road, to sow peace rather than discord.  It is never too late to open the door and windows of the mind . . . to allow the master planner to enter the heart . . .  to move us through our days . . . to guide us in our thoughts . . . to thaw our stiffened necks . . . to melt our hardened hearts.

Let us vow today to open ourselves . . . to the mind of God . . . that we might receive our plans from God’s own sacred heart.

 

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Proverbs 10: Honesty, Discipline and Expansion

Sunday, July 30, 2017

God won’t starve an honest soul,
    but God frustrates the appetites of the wicked.

Sloth makes you poor;
    diligence brings wealth.

The writers of Proverbs focus on practical advice that speaks of life honestly.

Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
    go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.

Blessings accrue on a good and honest life,
    but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

These verses point to truisms that make us smile.

Honesty lives confident and carefree,
    but Shifty is sure to be exposed.

An evasive eye is a sign of trouble ahead,
    but an open, face-to-face meeting results in peace.

These words remind us that discipline paves the way of a happy life.

The road to life is a disciplined life;
    ignore correction and you’re lost for good.

 Liars secretly hoard hatred;
    fools openly spread slander.

We remember that balance and compromise are basic elements of discipline.

The more talk, the less truth;
    the wise measure their words.

The speech of a good person is worth waiting for;
    the blabber of the wicked is worthless.

We reflect on our acts of kindness and realize that they return to us a hundred-fold.

God’s blessing makes life rich;
    nothing we do can improve on God.

The nightmares of the wicked come true;
    what the good people desire, they get.

When we are patient, forgiving, and open, we arrive at seeing the reality of the Kingdom.

When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked;
    good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.

The aspirations of good people end in celebration;
    the ambitions of bad people crash.

When we are faithful, hope-filled and loving, we join others who look for the expansion of the Kingdom.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore different translations of these verses, we begin to see that honesty and discipline bring about the expansion of the Kingdom.

 

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Proverbs 8: Armloads of Life

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wisdom and Creation, A Reprise

Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
    Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
    at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
    where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
    everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
    You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
    I’m telling you how to live at your best.

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before, and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . the gift of creation in each of us, and in the micro and macro-universe we inhabit. Today we reprise our reflection on the wisdom of God’s creation (https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/07/wisdom-and-creation/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

 I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.

These words are an invitation we will want to accept.

My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

The verses cited in this post are from the MESSAGE translation of Proverbs. To compare other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus.

To watch life on a reef off the Maldives, click on the sealife image or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oGyZL0qjM

For an interesting take on the multiverse, click on the image of planets above, or visit: http://www.chattanoogapulse.com/columns/just-a-theory/living-your-life-in-a-multiverse/ 

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Judges 17: Reward in Due Season

Friday, June 23, 2017

We have just experienced the longest liturgical season of the year, Eastertide.  What will we do with the promise we have been given?  How have we examined ourselves during our Lenten desert passage, what do we do now that we have arrived at the empty tomb? How do we enact the promise of the resurrection?  Do we await the risen Christ who sits with us, dines with us, prays with us and heals us?  Do we take what we believe to be ours by force?  Or worse still, once we see that our apportioned lot has not yet arrived, will we take something from someone else as our determined recompense for what we see as an unjustified lack?  Do we allow our sense of entitlement to cause us to end our Easter joy a bit too soon?  Do we miss the risen Christ because we are busy elsewhere, making certain that “we get what is ours?”

Reward arrives in due season, when at its height to be savored best by those who wait on the Lord.  Humility and a right attitude about who we are in relation to God and to his creatures will discipline the willing heart.  The covenant is renewed.  We already have our reward, although we may not yet see it.  And so we pray for the wisdom to wait, the patience to discern, and the love to abide in Christ Jesus who walks and lives among us.  Rather than rush to the table to take our tribal place higher than what might be ours, let us await the beckoning of the king to seat us at our proper place for he is among us, and he loves us well.   We do best to wait on God’s will, rather than determine our own.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 16, 2009.

To explore different dimensions of humility, click on the image above, or visit: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2014/11/04/what-are-different-dimensions-humility/

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Romans 5:1-5: Indwelling and Endurance

Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017

PENTECOST-

Jean Restout: Pentecost

With the indwelling of the Spirit, we know Christ more intimately.

Jesus Christ has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live.

Through the promise and gift of God’s grace, we live more fully.

And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory!

With the gift of life’s obstacles, we find our way to God through Christ.

We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and God’s approval creates hope.

With the transformation and peace of God’s wisdom, we become true disciples of Christ.

This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out God’s love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.

With persistence in faith, courage in hope, and charity in love, we come to understand the true gift of the Spirit’s indwelling.

When we spend time with these verses by reflecting on varying translations, we open ourselves to the Spirit’s indwelling, and we learn to endure in Christ.

For a slide show of Pentecost paintings, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/pentecost-in-art-paintings-stained-glass-windows-frescoes-and-more-photos_n_3303122.html?slideshow=true#gallery/298296/0

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Sirach 1:1-10: Length of DaysBritain Bible

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Law, the Prophets, and the later writers have left us a wealth of valuable teachings, and we should praise Israel for the instruction and wisdom they provide. (GNT)

When we look for advice during times or worry, there is always a place to turn.

Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. (NRSV)

When we search for a firm foundation on which to stand, there is always wisdom at our fingertips.

You are invited, therefore, to read with goodwill and attention and to be forgiving in cases where we seem less than perfect in translating some expressions, despite working hard on the translation. (CEB)

When we find that our burden is too heavy to carry, the Creator calls us in the enormity and passion of creation.

All wisdom is from the Lord
    and remains with him forever.

The sands of the sea, the drops of rain,
    the days of eternity—who can count them? (NABRE)

When we want to rejoice in the presence of the Lord, the universe shows us God’s power.

Heaven’s height, earth’s extent,
    the abyss and wisdom—who can explore them?

Before all other things wisdom was created;
    and prudent understanding, from eternity. (NABRE)

When we are ready to celebrate the endless compassion of God’s patience and wisdom, we assure ourselves of infinite happiness, delight and length of our days.

Love of the Lord warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.

When we compare different translations of these verses and reflect on wisdom we find, we open our hearts to happiness, peace and length of days.

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