Scripture: Proverbs 8:22–31
Once upon a…no.
Once before there was time, while the swirling mess of chaos still ruled the void, there came to be two eternal lights in the Family of the Divine. One was named Word, and the other was called Wisdom. They were both there in the beginning. They were the beginning. They began the beginning.
Word was the fullness of the Maker’s revelation. More than anything else, Word was there to help the Maker reveal. To love. To relate. Word revealed to creation a depth and fullness and complexity that demonstrated what the Maker wanted the world to be. Word was there to explain, illustrate, and proclaim all that the Maker wanted to make. To say that Word was a tool of the Maker was not entirely accurate, but to say that the Land of the Made was made through Word was not entirely inaccurate, either. The Maker made. And Word was there.
So the Maker made and made and made. Light that was stunning and warm and eye-squintingly bright, alongside darkness that was enveloping and comforting and cool. Water that came down hard and came up easy, that struck and destroyed and overwhelmed like the hardest rock wall…but also evaporated into air and sky and wispy clouds that danced like the lightest nothing. Word was there when the Maker spoke and the water became more and more solid…first a little salt, and then a little sand, and then some smooshy mud, and then hard dirt, and then shingles of shale and slate, and then hard granite, and finally unbreakable diamond. The Maker called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters “seas.” God made and revealed, revealed and made. And through the voice that was Word, proclaimed that it was all…good.
And next to Word in the beginning was…Wisdom. Wisdom was the fullness of the Maker’s delight. More than anything else, Wisdom was there to help the creation play. Imagine. Co-create, alongside of the Maker. Wisdom revealed a joy and a celebration and an abundance that demonstrated what the Maker wanted the world to be. Wisdom was there to sing and dance and shout all that the Maker wanted to make in the Land of the Made. To say that Wisdom was a tool of the Maker was not entirely accurate but to say that the Land of the Made was made through Wisdom was not entirely inaccurate, either.
The Maker made and made and made some more. And Wisdom was there, offering glitz and glamour to the solid canvas of creation. Sprinkled amongst the darkness and light were spinning galaxies, and fiery suns, and cool and quiet moons. Dotting the waters above and waters below were schools of silvery fish that danced as they caught the light, and gloriously-painted birds that sang just for the sake of singing, from first light to twilight. In the seas played otters and on the land trumpeted elephants, and at every turn of creation, Wisdom laughed and laughed and laughed, delighting in the beauty and the curiosity and the simplicity of all that the Maker had made. And then the Maker looked at Word and Wisdom and smiled, “come let us make people in our image,” and the Maker took a deep breath and formed from the dust little black children, and brown children, and pink children, all made in the image of Wisdom and Word, all made in the image of the Maker.
And there in the joy of the shade and breeze, Word and Wisdom and all of the creatures sat and drank lemonade and ate apple-berry muffins while the squirrels ran down the trees and politely asked for a nibble.
But as those smooth-skinned pink and brown and black babies grew up, things began to change. Some of them were under the mistaken impression that they were the Maker, that creation was there for them to possess and dominate and control, instead of something to be cared for, and loved, and protected, as the gift that it was. As these children of the Maker lost their way, Wisdom and Word were there all along, whispering in their ears the ways of the Maker, the ways that brought them light and life, and joy and peace.
Wisdom whispered noble things. Prudence. Intelligence. Righteousness. As the misguided children sought after gold and silver and jewels, it was Wisdom who whispered, “there is a better way.” As they sought after pride and arrogance and perverted speech, it was Wisdom who proclaimed, “the fear of the Maker is hatred of evil.” As they stomped around in self-importance and acquisition and achievement of tiny things, Wisdom actually laughed. Giggled, in fact. Giggled as she remembered the moments before there was time, when she and the Maker ordered the world and all of creation. Giggled as she lay in the dirt and watched the ants climb up and down, and down and up all day on a single leaf. As she rolled on her back and watched the water in the sky form and reform and dissipate and grow. She laughed for she knew that the ways of the misguided children, the ways of little-bitty power and foolish pride and fleeting prestige lasted as long as the clouds in the sky or the reign of the ant atop the leaf.
She giggled as she watched the misguided children proclaim that they were in charge…that their order was the eternal order. Because she was there when the Maker spoke and all the foundations of the earth were created. She knew about real power. Again and again, she pointed the misguided children to the revelation of creation, there to teach and to guide. There to reveal and illumine. There to invite delight.
But again and again, the misguided children proclaimed their own self-importance. It made her laugh, but it also made her more than a little sad. Because she knew that their proclamations and their wars, their destruction and acquisition, their domination and abuse, in the end left them empty and grasping and hurting and afraid. But she never stopped whispering the ways of peace and joy. Singing the song of righteousness.
Then the time came.
The misguided children had ignored the ways of Wisdom long enough. The time had come for Word to join them. To become one of them. To tabernacle amongst them and teach them the ways of peace. He, too, sang the song of Wisdom. He taught them about community and beauty, like the lilies of the field. He demonstrated to them prudence and forgiveness and humility, like the quiet trees. He ate and drank and laughed with them, like the sea otters and the elephants. He warned them of their fleeting and foolish ways, as empty and ever-ending as dead grass that blew away in the wind.
Some listened, and learned the ways of Word and Wisdom, and chose to follow in their path. But many did not. So they chopped down a tree, a big, beautiful tree. And they melted rock and ore into nails. And there on a hill that the Maker had spoken into existence, they suffocated the life out of the Word.
And once again the chaos swirled. The darkness that the Maker had made enveloped the noon-day sun. The earth that the Maker had crafted shook and cracked. The order of death was upended and the bodies of those long-gone appeared in the streets and cried aloud the sad, wailing song of forgotten Wisdom. And in the heart of their proclaimed power, in the Temple that had become the center of their worship of their own self-importance, the veil was torn in two. And there, in the darkness, those who had chosen to follow the path of righteousness lay the body of the Incarnate Word, Co-creator of the foundations of the earth, into a dark tomb.
And Wisdom ceased her song.
For a time.
But not forever. For even as the self-important, misguided children of the Maker sat in their smug towers of fleeting prestige, the song of Word and Wisdom would not be denied. No, on the third day, if you listened closely enough, you could hear the trees begin to clap their hands. All fruit trees and cedars begin their notes of praise. You could hear the rocks start to cry out. And if you really listened, you could hear throughout the Land Which Was Made…a giggle. And that giggle grew into a laugh. And that laugh grew into a full-throated song of triumph. The triumph of life over death.
And there, in the garden, where the lilies grew and the birds sang, the Word returned to life. And the stone—could you believe that they actually sat in their towers thinking that the stone was on their side!?!—the stone was rolled away. And the story that began with light and dark, and seas and skies, and mountains and rivers, turned the page. A new chapter began, even though it was really just the old and ancient story told once again. And the Word that would not be denied returned to the Land of the Living and sang again in perfect harmony with his sister Wisdom. There was no whisper that day, but only the loud and glorious singing of a Resurrection song.
And it began a singing that has not stopped! The song of prudence and righteousness. The song of forgiveness and peace. The song of joy and hope. It was the song sung as tongues of fire inspired the followers of the Word to race out of that upper room and sing it in a hundred languages. It was the song sung in the desert, as the mothers and fathers of the faith learned to sing the song in a new way. It was the song of Hildegard writing about the greening of the faith, and Francis preaching to the birds, and Claire calling herself a “little plant.” It was the song sung by those who rejected the misguided and fleeting ways of war and greed and destruction, singing instead the ways of reform and justice and change.
And it is the song that we still sing today. With Wisdom leading the chorus, we sing. Full-throated and joyous, in full harmony, we join the song of the Word and Wisdom that existed before time began…
· We sing about the solid rock on which we stand.
· We sing as we hear the Maker pass in the rustling grass.
· We sing as we consider all the worlds thy hands have made. And see the stars and hear the rolling thunder, the power throughout the universe displayed.
· We sing as we run through field and forest, vale and mountain, flow’ry meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in Thee!
· We sing for the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.
And that love still lies around us, verdant and solid. On the days when we grieve, or fear, or rage, or wonder if anyone even cares about us, we look at the constancy of the rocks and know that if the Maker has cared about that rock for as long as it has been around, maybe the Maker cares about us, too. And as we see the immensity and power of the rivers, we believe that all of our grief and fear and rage might also be swallowed up by the immensity of the Maker’s love.
Beloved, we sing.
Even today, as the misguided children still insist on their fleeting and foolish ways, we sing. Full-throated and joy-filled, we sing. And as we sing, if you listen closely, in the pauses and the rests, you can still hear it. Can you hear the giggle? Can you hear the delight? The mirth? The joy? If you listen closely enough you will hear her: the everlasting, ever-laughing song of Wisdom.