“Pursue wisdom like a hunter, and lie in wait on her paths.”
Ben Sira (Sirach 14:22)
There is something primordial about hunting. In part, because we all need to find certain things—things that call for hunting of some kind.
Hunting done well is always about life. There are men who are simply killers, and so their hunting is about killing. Shudder at the thought: they enjoy seeing something die. Then there are real hunters: they love life and they hunt for the sake of it. In successful hunting for animals, a living thing must die. But done rightly there is great respect, care, and gratitude for the life that is taken.
There is also ‘hunting’ for other things in human life. We say that we hunt for a job, a home, or a friend. Or wisdom. We can ask ourselves why we call this ‘hunting;’ or in other words, what might we learn from a comparison to the primary analogate (hunting animals) in this analogy?
When Ben Sira speaks of hunting wisdom, the analogy to hunting animals is explicit. We are bidden to lie in wait on her paths. In hunting animals, one must first know where to find them. Then one must go there, and wait.
Waiting. This is hard to do. It is an active, studied waiting. One cannot sleep or even doze. One scans, carefully, constantly, patiently. And this must be in the right place, otherwise the vigilance is for naught.
The paths of wisdom—what a striking image!—just where are they? Where does wisdom live? Where does she travel? Like an animal, her ways are predictable—if we take the time to discover them. Indeed, she is even more predictable, since her ways are never haphazard.
Surely we will find her paths if we look for those who trod them. Where the wise live, how the wise live: this is where we will find wisdom! We will need to follow them, keep company with them, speak with them, and study with them (including their writings), and also act like them.
One piece of good news is that in this hunt no one will die. The only death here will be a death to ourselves, and our old ways of acting and thinking, as we strive to conform ourselves to the ways of wisdom.
The other good news is that our prey does not seek to elude us. Indeed, to the extent that we struggle and even seem to lose our way, this is actually part of preparing for success. For we were made for wisdom, and the paths of hunting it are themselves already the first steps in achieving it.
“Pursue wisdom like a hunter, and lie in wait on her paths.” Happy hunting! And may we be united along the way.
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Continuing to expand the Concepts Made Clear Series of short videos. This week look for videos to address the reality of NATURE. Coming soon, a series on Wisdom. This video gives you a primer question to consider (in a winter wonderland!):
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