He stood still when he heard her voice. “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave simpleness, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Prov 9:4-6).
She didn’t sound familiar, not at all like the music in his headphones. After a moment the young man ignored her and kept walking.
He saw the lady again, standing in the crosswalk. “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men. O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her” (Prov 8:4-6, 10).
She reminded him, somehow, of how the priest would read the gospels to them every Sunday. He found them boring.
But somehow he couldn’t seem to avoid her. There she was again, in the street: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov 1:20-23).
Who was she, to speak to him like that!? Her insistent calls grated on his ears; he could endure her no longer and fled her sight.
And then, at the door of a different house, a different woman, calling a different call: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Prov 9:16-17). A strange and foolish woman, whose lips drip honey, and whose words are smoother than oil (Prov 5:3).
She reminded him of the images that flit across his phone, of the advertisements on the subway, of the shows he watches daily. She feels comfortable, and familiar. . .
At the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man without sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its entrails; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life . . . little does he know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol! (Prov 7:6-9, 21-23; 9:18)
Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly have prepared their banquets, and both call out to each and every one of us. Look, down the street, another man approaches. With whom will he abide?
Image: Workshop of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Prudence