Sep 12, 2021
Wisdom. I wonder… if we would even recognize her were she to pop up on our screens as we surf, or flash on the billboard by the bridge, or alert our phones of an emergency….
There is a story— a tragedy— in Greek Mythology about Cassandra. Cassandra was a Trojan princess and connected to Apollo, the Greek god of sun and truth and prophecy and healing diseases. And the story — the myth— the tragedy— goes that she would always speak truth, she would utter wisdom, and she would never be believed. She could recognize the sheep in wolves clothing, the Trojan horse with its bowels full of lying swords, but no one would listen— they were too busy wagging their tongues and babbling on about their own names and prowess and powers— and so the Trojan city would fall, the Greek ships would sink, the princes of the world were slaughtered, and even the lady and her wisdom were pillaged and buried. Hers was an epic tale of tragedy and woe.
There’s more to the story— there always is— and I wonder… what if Cassandra were to speak today? What if Lady Wisdom were to offer us a proverb? What if St. James were to pen the utterances of his tongue not only to the very first Christian community in Jerusalem, but to our Christian community in Texas… what word might they have for us? And might we pause long enough to hear the power of that word, recognize it within ourselves and rumble with the depth of what it might mean.
And so I offer for you— out of holy imagination — today’s appointed proverb of wisdom from the book of James translated in a way that is incarnated—embodied— in the here and now. I invite you to get curious and listen.
My siblings, not many of us should become influencers. What happens to the 🐐? The Greatest Of All Time either falls off their vaulted position or is mocked when they withdraw from competition. We are very much works in progress — and it says so right on the front of our website, and in the pages of our journal, and in the chambers of our heart. We are not whole. We do not keep our whole body in check.
Our fingers are our new tongues. Want a heavy appliance moved? Just one finger. 👉 Hungry for a meal delivered to your doorstep without painful toil in the field? Just a few clicks. 🛒 Curse another driver on the road? Also takes just one finger. 🤬 Eviscerate the humanity of your neighbor or contribute to the destruction of society through disinformation? Just takes a few movements 🐍.
Bless the congregation? Sign the cross. ✝️ Send a widely distributed call to prayer? 🙏Type away. Praise our God? Raise your hands. 🙌
We speak 🗣️ with our tongues and increasingly with our bodies and in one moment we bless and praise and love 🤟 and in the next we rain down the evils of Hell upon one another.💥 We are fractured and fracturing and left on own, we are AF (absolutely fracked). 😳 😬 😩 ☠️
Get curious with me. Do you recognize the story as our story too— how the God’s Word is living and active today?
I can see how lady wisdom prophesying about the healing of diseases through injections is rejected in the social square (typing). We’re too busy wagging our tongues and babbling on that we believe influencers and welcome the gift horse they erect. We are wrecked. Communally we are divided. Individually, we are fractured.
What is the story as you see it?
My sibling once was a navigator for a deep water Destroyer. In navigation, before you turn your rudder and chart a course for the future, you begin with reckoning, as in dead reckoning, and you calculate where you are.
Or as is said in the opening words of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech about a house divided: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
Where are you in all of this? Where are you standing? What is fractured in you? Why is your house divided? What are you saying? How are feeling?
Exasperated with a jaw clenched so tight anything you say projects onto others? Anxious with a roiling gut that keeps your mouth closed lest it spew? Disillusioned with in ache in your temple that jumbles your clarity? Dismayed with a heaviness in your breath that turns the poison inward?
Beloveds, truth? This is our story. Can we own it and rumble with it? What is honest about the stories we are making up and what ain’t?
Do you know the idiom, the saying: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That’s a flat out lie. That is a false fracturing between our bodies and mind, and we are whole embodied beings. Words do hurt me. Words do hurt you. Words are killing people. In our ICUs, and emergency rooms, and because there is no longer access to timely care.
As St. James reminds us: “With [our tongue] we bless [God], and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.” Truth? Words have power. No matter if we say them with our tongues or with our hands, words have immense power. Power to influence. Power to destroy. And, power to create.
How much power? Creation — creation — was spoken into being. God said, ‘“Let there be light”; and there was light.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” Words have power. Power to create and re-create, if we let them.
Beloved, we are made in the image and likeness of a God who speaks creation into being and our words have power too. Here’s where it gets real for us— if we desire to lead wholehearted lives in congruence with the God in whose image we are made— what needs to change?
My hope and my prayer for us is that we might wholeheartedly speak a creative word of love in our lives. Beloved we have a God who speaks creation into being. We have a God who binds up the broken hearted and liberates the captives. I believe it is the desire of God to restore to wholeness what is fractured in us. Imagine with me then a new ending to the story. Imagine with me a life transformed by wholeheartedness. Imagine with me what it would be like to heed the proverbial wisdom about the power of our words.
I imagine that such a wholehearted life would look like:
… curbing this sailor tongue of mine, especially when it lashes inward
… pausing before posting online or communicating to another driver
… minding what words and news and media I let in knowing they have power
… showing-up with my whole self and speaking love and life and truth and bringing the power of God’s good words to the deep dark depraved places of our world for silence is complicity.
… examining what I’ve said with my words and deeds every night and confessing what needs to be confessed, repenting of what needs to be repented, making a plan to repair what needs to be repaired, and forgiving (myself and others)
How might wisdom be inviting you into a wholehearted life?