Verbs being action words, they don’t seem to play well with ‘quiet’.
“Dear friend, listen well to my words . . .” That’s how this morning’s passage from Proverbs 4 starts out as read from The Message. Then comes this squad of ‘do’ words.
“Tune . . . keep . . . Concentrate . . . Learn . . . Keep . . . Don’t . . . Avoid . . . Keep . . . Ignore . . . Watch . . . Look . . . Leave . . .” (vv. 20-27)
Proverbs is called The Wisdom Book. Even the term ‘wise’ brings with it the mental picture of a person sitting calmly in the lotus position, face at rest, unseamed by life’s fretful concerns. Who wants to ‘friend’ me on FB? Which cat food? Why Ram is better than Ford? The President’s talking. Again.
Right? Soft, nature-type music in the background, maybe a little ocean surf or rain mixed in there? Ease of mind and spirit. Solitude and peacefulness. Tinkling and hollow wooden resonance of windchimes. Violin and piano. Acoustic guitar.
Now remember boot camp. Was there a bullet point in the TI’s/DI’s handbook that required them to have breath that could drop a Cape Buffalo in its tracks at 20 feet?
Into the middle of and right slap through your peaceful zen tromps this rude squad of verbs: “Ah-don’-know-but-ah-been-TODE—-” You just sang it, didn’t you? Yeah, ya did.
“Pro” means ‘a prefix indicating favor; upholding the affirmative; being for as opposed to against; in support of”.
A voib is a grammatical center that indicates an action, occurrence or state of being.
A ‘proverb’, then, would be—–
Nailed it! Good job. The mistake in approaching Proverbs is to assume one can pour a leisurely cup of joe, sit down in peace and, ah, cogitate. Chew one’s mental cud, so to speak. Mull over. Ponder. That’s a personal shout-out to an original 2nd Cupper who made sure I knew ‘ponder’ was a favorite word. LJ, if you’re still out there and reading, let me know. Quit pondering long enough to write.
The problem with wisdom is in gathering it: becoming wise means experiencing being otherwise. Overcoming the often-unpleasant aftereffects of otherwisdom is time-consuming and usually involves work.
You’re beginning to see, then, that whenever you see “Proverbs”, it is a good idea to keep your eye peeled while reading and absorbing what at first glance seems a peaceful, idyllic chat with smooth, easy truth.
Keep your mind watchful. Don’t lean back and get too comfortable. Keep that hot cup of fresh coffee where you can lift it.
Proverbs will not leave you alone. Wanna veg? Swallow and parrot what somebody else dictates to you? Leave Proverbs closed.
Wanna grow? Stick with Proverbs. Just be prepared for The Zen of Kellogg. For locals, that needs no ‘splainin’. Any Kansan who’s ever visited Wichita knows: Kellogg is the premier exhaust-snorting, rpm-snarling automotive furball stretch of highway in town. All of you from elsewhere? Just insert your fav furball: ‘The Zen of __________.’
You may be sitting, quietly observing things and people around you. It will seem like you’re doing nothing. If you’re a veteran of the Proverbs Campaigns, what’s going on inside your heart, mind and spirit will be a different story.
Keeping a vigilant watch over my heart, tuning my ears to God’s voice, and ignoring sideshow distractions.
What are you doing?
© D. Dean Boone, August 2014