Are you a wise man or a lady wisdom?

Are you a wise man or a lady wisdom?

At our scriptural reasoning study the other night, and because it was the Christian text of choice for the evening, we Mennonite participants ended up singing, “The Wise man built his house upon the rock” But the main point of that passage is not about building your house on the Lord Jesus Christ. This parable follows three chapters of ethical teaching. So the main point, as Matthew 7: 24 states is: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” It seems that wisdom is what you learn that you put it into action.

My best friend, Muso Kura Ouattara of Burkina Faso, was the oldest of four girls in her family before a younger brother was born. Her father, wanting to pass on his wisdom to the next generation, called Muso Kura over to sit with him each evening after the evening meal. He told her many stories of people or animals in order to prepare his daughter to navigate life with integrity. She never had formal schooling because the village was so small, and no primary school was available. She became an informal midwife, mediator, village elder and story teller. She was insightful in nutritional solutions to health challenges. She was educated in such a way that she became a gifted woman of wisdom who contributed to the well being of many in her village, living naturally a life of sacrifice for others. Her wisdom was a gift to us as she interpreted a new culture to us.

Speaking of a woman of wisdom we have Lady Wisdom here in the “she” pronouns. Ecclesiasticus 4:11-19.

“Wisdom brings up her own children and cries for those who seek her. Whoever loves her loves life, those who seek her early will be filled with joy. Whoever possesses her will inherit honour, and wherever he walks the Lord will bless him. Those who serve her minister to the Holy One, and the Lord loves those who love her. Whoever obeys her rules the nations, whoever pays attention to her dwells secure. If he trusts himself to her he will inherit her, and his descendants will remain in possession of her; for though she takes him at first through winding ways, bringing fear and faintness on him, trying him out with her discipline till she can trust him, and testing him with her ordeals, she then comes back to him on the straight road, makes him happy and reveals her secrets to him. If he goes astray, however, she abandons him and leaves him to his own destruction”.

People who follow Lady wisdom, experience full emotions and find joy, love life, are made happy, and live secure in a right relationship with God, and their descendents will receive these blessings. Those who seek wisdom are gifted with emotional intelligence.

During International Week in February at the University of Alberta, Catherine Odora

Hoppers spoke about "knowledge", challenging those in the education field to educate not school. She told us that knowledge is always in plural, "knowledges”. She explained that knowledge in singular is usually colonial knowledge and often entails the dominating imposing their way of seeing the world on the less powerful. She says that different ways of knowing and seeing are relatively unexplored in public settings as the world is transfixed into western modes of knowing and seeing to the exclusion of Indigenous ways. This kind of education demands the recognition, development, promotion and protection of different knowledge systems and epistemologies. As an example she told of bringing together the indigenous sages of South Africa with the staff of academic institutions.

In the Q and A period which followed, I shared the story of my good friend, Muso Kura as an example of an educated but unschooled person. I had an inner chuckle when a university staff person came up to me after the event, and thanked me for my comment. He had not understood from the speaker the difference between schooled and educated. I felt sorry for him because he has a long ways to go in changing his educational paradigm, because true education is more like wisdom and he has spent his life schooling people. I am sad that the univeristy has largely pursued academic knowledge without a spiritual or faith perspective.

Pulling all these threads together, it seems that what we learn through our intelligence has to be put into practise before it becomes imbedded as wisdom. Also true education is both understood and experienced, and it accesses knowledges that are not only of dominant culture but represent traditional knowledges. Following wisdom brings us to emotional wholeness and we experience joy and happiness and allows us most of all to experience the fullness of God's love. Following wisdom transfers God's love into the next generations. Isn't this what the First Nations of Canada are trying to tell us?