Seeing Sophia

First United Methodist Church – Omaha
Dr. Jane Florence
May 6, 2018
Scripture: Proverbs 2:1-5, 22:6
Sermon: “Meeting Sophia”

The man encountered a woman at the corner of Clueless Street and Certainty Avenue. He was looking for the Road to Riches or the Boulevard of Wealth, but it seemed he was just walking around in circles getting nowhere. He was sure he had passed this corner before. Perhaps the woman could point him in the right direction.

“Excuse me?” he approached the golden mulatto-skinned woman at the busiest corner of the city square.

She looked at him. The depth of her dark eyes caught his breath, and for a moment he was lost in the recess of time and space. It was as though he was falling through the looking glass through her eyes into the universe of mind, spirit, space, nature, emotions, imagination. All that was and is and ever will be was there. He came to his senses and saw her lips were moving; he swam back to reality to catch her last phrase, “How long, O simple one, will you love being simple?”

Her words stung with truth as much as her eyes had revealed in depth. “Yes, that’s why I’m asking… I think I’ve lost my way. Can you tell me which way to go?”

“It depends,” she said, “what are you looking for?”

“Success! Money, wealth, prosperity! Isn’t that what we are all looking for? Isn’t that what we are supposed to be finding?”

“Where have you been searching so far?”

“First, I climbed the Ivory towers on Academia Blvd. Then I scaled the Golden Towers on Corporate Street. I’ve got degrees and jobs, but something more churns inside me. Maybe I need to climb higher in profession or start a new one. I’m not sure, I just know there’s something I don’t have yet.”

“Who have been your guides so far? Who you choose as a teacher affects not only WHAT you achieve, but what you DESIRE to achieve.”

“Hmm, yes. I suppose so. My dad wanted me to be a doctor and make lots of money. My professors wanted me to be a musician. They said something about natural talent going to waste. Some guys at work think we will get rich launching a new start up, but I don’t think it is legal. I’m sure it’s not ethical, but we are going to make a lot of money.”

“Some of those sound like a slippery slope down a path of sorrow and disappointment. Look at the folks talking to you. Do they have what you are seeking? Are they killing themselves in pursuit of their ideas of success?”

“None of them have what I seek, but well, it’s a dog eat dog world out there.”

“Do you like the taste of dog so far?”

“No, I thought maybe it was an acquired taste, and I’d get used to it. You know what I mean, it’s a rat race.”

“Do you find meaning in racing a rat all your life?”

“The truth is I feel like the other rats are so far ahead of me I’ll never catch up. I’m stuck on one of those little wheels in the cage, running and running, making it squeak a lot and getting nowhere.”

“It’s important to know what you what it is you are looking for if you set on a path to find it. If you are asking me for directions, I know some paths. The paths I know are more valuable than silver or gold, treasure or jewels, and the path I would point to is not about putting silver or gold, titles or wealth in your safety deposit box or bank account.”

“So you do know what I need? You know the way? I thought so! I could see it in your eyes.”

“I know the way: the way to riches of the soul and peace of the heart and Wisdom of life.”

“Great. I’ll take it. Which way do I go?!”

“Follow this path: Do good whenever you can; do no harm; don’t quarrel, choose peace, speak kindly, live faithfully in right relationship, honor your covenants and vows. Don’t listen to those who tempt you on paths of evil, for they are killing themselves. There are seven things the Lord hates: haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked plans, feet that run to evil, lying witness, one who sows discord…”

The man interrupted her, “Oaky, stop! Wait, wait. I’m trying to write these down. What was after ‘Do Good wherever you can?’”

“I can give you the list again. There’s a rule for every situation and occurrence.”

“That sounds like a lot of rules.”

“It would be.”

“Then I would have to lug some sort of list around with me. It sounds heavy.”

“It would be.”

“So is there an alternative way?”

“Yes, how about three steps instead of a big book of rules. Do you think you can commit three steps to memory ?”

“Heck yeah, that’ll be easy.”

“We’ll see. Step One on your quest: Listen.”

“That’s it, listen? What am I listening to?”

“Listen to the voice of others for they are trying to sway you. They are a legion of voices. Hear them, recognize their seduction. They will tempt you and criticize you and lure you. You will lose yourself and your life chasing these voices of the world. Listen to them and let them pass by.”

“Okay, got it. Listen and be careful who I listen to and follow. What’s next?”

“Ready for step two on your journey?”

“Yep. This is easy.”

“ We’ll see. Listen.”

“That’s it, listen? What am I listening to this time?”

“Listen for the voice of your ego. It will shame you and criticize you. It will tell you, you aren’t good enough. It will tell you that you need more. It will exalt you and praise you. It will assure you that you deserve more. It will color everything you see. And you will think you are seeing and hearing what everyone else is seeing and hearing. But you are only hearing the voice of your ego.”

“That does sound a bit harder. I will work on it.”

“It is harder. Practice listening to yourself, you will learn to hear your voice in all things. Let it go.”

“Let’s see if I got this. Step One: listen for voice of others; don’t let them steer me on the wrong path. Step Two: listen for my own ego; don’t follow it either. If there’s only three guides, the next one must be the zinger!”

“Oh it is. Step Three on your path: listen.”

“Really? That’s all you’ve got? I thought you were pointing me to the path,” he said disappointedly.

“Be quiet and listen. You will hear the voice of others. That is not the voice to follow. Be aware and attentive. You will hear the voice of your ego. That is not the voice to guide you. Then be quite and in the quite you will hear the voice of Wisdom rising from deep within you. (8) Wisdom guards the paths of justice, with Wisdom, you will understand righteousness and justice, and equity, and see every good path… for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul prudence will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. (Proverbs 2:10-11) Chapter 3 – (13) Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life. Those who hold her fast are called blessed. (Proverbs 3:13-18) Learn to recognize her voice. Wisdom will guide your path into true harmony of heart and soul. You will find harmony within and without. Be present in your life. Then you will know yourself. Knowing who you are will quite the anxious churning in your belly. Then all the rest will fall into place. Then you will know your path.”

The corners of his mouth turned into a smile and the anxious worry across his forehead relaxed. “I think I can hear a faint whisper of the Wisdom voice of which you speak. I will practice listening. I must go now.” The man turns to walk away from golden mulatto-skinned woman at the busiest corner of the city square. Then he stops and turns back. “I forgot to thank you. It enjoyed getting to meet you. I’m sorry. I didn’t even ask your name.”

“I am called Sophia.”

“I’d like to talk again. Where do you live? Where can I find you?”

“Seek and you will find me. Knock and the door of your heart will open. Then you will know. I AM with you always.”