Stories Seldom Heard
Stories Seldom Heard
240th Edition - July 1, 2019
The Story of Wisdom
Welcome to Stories Seldom Heard (SSH). I especially would
like to welcome those who participated in the San Damiano Women’s
Retreat in Danville, CA.
Wisdom in scripture has many meanings. It is the quality of
prudent and insightful decision making. "Good advice and sound
judgment belong to me” (Wisdom 8:12). It is a quality that is
learned not just by the head, but also by the heart. "When wisdom
comes into your heart and knowledge is a delight for you, then
prudence will be there to watch over you, and discernment be your
guardian" (Proverbs 2:10). Wisdom, however, is more than the
accumulation of knowledge and facts. It is more than prudent living
or the insights that come from our experiences. Even though we seek
wisdom, pursue it with all our hearts, we will never fully grasp it
because in scripture Wisdom is another name for God.
We hear in the Book of Wisdom, that she has been at play in creation
from the very beginning. “From everlasting I was firmly set, from
the beginning, before earth came into being. The deep was not, when
I was born, there were no springs to gush with water… I was by his
side, a master craftsman, delighting him day after day, ever at play
in his presence… (Prov 8:23 - 30). “She is an initiate in the
mysteries of God's knowledge, making choices of the works God is to
do…." (Wisdom 8:3). Wisdom is “at play everywhere in his world,
delighting to be with the children of the earth” (Wisdom 8:31).
Wisdom in Hebrew is hokmah, in Greek wisdom is sophia and in Latin
wisdom is sapientia. Grammatically all of these words are feminine
in gender. The point I am making is not that God is a woman. We all
know that God is God, God is The Divine, not woman or man. God is
the creator of this world that is still in the process of coming
into being. This God is greater than any one gender or object. The
scriptures offer us a variety of images, symbols, metaphors, and
stories to help us relate to God more intimately. The more images
we have, the more ways we can explore our relationship with God.
Since Wisdom is the personification of God and God's presence in the
world, a better understanding of Wisdom would reveal to us her
active presence in our ordinary activities.
The Book of Wisdom offers us a diverse and creative portrait of
her. She is depicted as female. She is mother, sister, preacher,
teacher, judge, guide and much more. "To Wisdom say, 'My sister!'
Call Perception your dearest friend" (Prov 7:4). She is not shy or
retiring, but rather “On the hilltop, on the road, at the crossways,
she takes her stand" (Prov 8:2). She “calls aloud in the streets,
she raises her voice in the public squares; she calls out at the
street corners, she delivers her message" to those who are willing
to listen (Prov 1:20). Often, she is called Lady Wisdom. We find
her "beside the gates of the city, at the approaches to the gates
she cries aloud" (Prov 8:3). These are very assertive and public
images of Wisdom since the gates of the city are the places where
the judges sit. The business of the day is conducted, bargains are
made, lives are determined, justice is discerned. No one who says
they desire truth could ignore her calls because she is not weak or
She is, however, different from those who sit at the gates for she
and her works are everywhere. “What is more wealthy than Wisdom
whose works are everywhere? Where is there greater than Wisdom,
designer of all" (Wisdom 8: 4-6)? There are so many beautiful
expressions of Wisdom it is hard to capture them all. Therefore,
you might want to read the Books of Proverbs and Wisdom. They will
lead you through a profound and intriguing meditation on God and
God's creative works. If you don’t read the whole Book of Wisdom,
be sure to read Chapter 7: 22 -30 "In Praise of Wisdom" and Chapter
8. But then, if you read those chapters how could you resist
reading Chapter 9? “A Prayer for Wisdom" (Wisdom 9:1-18). No doubt
a prayer that each of us could pray ardently every day.
Probably most of us have not thought of or prayed to Lady Wisdom.
It might be a relatively new way of thinking of or praying to God.
Often new images help us in times of transition and creative
metaphors open up pathways when everything seems to be blocked. For
others of us, this kind of meditation might help us understand that
Wisdom has dwelled in us for years guiding and directing our
choices. We might also want to think of people who have taught us
right judgment, discernment of spirits, stewardship of creation and
a thirst for the mysteries of God. "Wisdom figures", yes, but more -
people through whom God's voice trained our ears to listen and our
hearts to discern and seek the truth.
Recently, I read a book that was called The Forgotten Desert
Mothers (1). The Mothers, the Amma's, of the
desert lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Their lives were very different from the city people who sought them
out for spiritual direction, spiritual accompaniment. The Amma's
were highly respected for their holiness, as well as for their
practical insights. In fact, Amma Mastridia was known as the female
face of God because of her great wisdom and her compassionate
heart. Amma Syncletica encouraged those who came to her to
recognize the "gift of self". God created them in God's image.
Therefore, she encouraged them to seek out the person God intended
them to be.
Sometimes when we read another person's life or we reflect on those
who have gone before us, we can see how that person had become a
wise person. We might not call them "Amma", but they reveal to us,
a little more clearly, the face and presence of God.
A friend of mine told me that she keeps a book by her father's bed.
Since he is confined to the house, it is the best way to keep track
of his medications. But she also bought another book that she keeps
inside the top drawer of his dresser. It is a bound book with a
modest design and a pen attached by a strong string. This she says,
“is for his words of wisdom. I don't want to forget his humor and
his insights." Maybe there's something for each of us in this
practice. We keep baby books with first and favorite words. We
make Anniversary and significant Birthday picture books and
sayings. Why not make a book for the wise and important sayings of
your best friends, family members and loved ones? No doubt, the
process of listening and reflecting will reveal much to us about God
1. Laura Swan, The Forgotten
Desert Mothers, Paulist Press, New York/Mahweh, N.J. 2001.
"Stories Seldom Heard"
is a monthly article written by Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P. Sister
is a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, California. This service is
offered to the Christian community to enrich one's personal and
spiritual life. The articles can be used for individual or group
If you would like to support this ministry, please send your
contributions to Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, c/o Sister
Patricia Bruno, O.P.,
2517 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green, and Maria Hetherton who have
helped in editing this article. To make changes or remove your name
from “Stories Seldom Heard” mailing list, please contact me
Thank you. Bob McGrath.