The Street Teacher
The first light-spangled rays of dawn played upon the serene countenance of the woman as she awoke. Pushing back the bed coverings, she rose and stood quietly at her window to welcome the morning as it came alive. She nodded to the profusion of white lilies in the garden outside and smiled at the two birds gliding past, as if to salute friends—which indeed they were.
Though unlined, her face bore the stamp of a profound and beautiful maturity. The set of her mouth was firm but not hard, and her eyes held a clarity and depth that made others sometimes glance away uncomfortably from her direct gaze. A neighbor once growled to his wife that it was as if the woman could see beyond what was visible to what was buried deep in his heart.
After a few moments of silence, she began to sing a soft, whispering song in which joy and pain were mingled, but in which joy triumphed at the end. Then, she bowed her head and slightly lifted her hands, palms upraised, as if receiving a blessing.
With a smile, she turned from the window, washed her hands and face, and dressed herself carefully, attractively, yet simply. She ate a breakfast of just-baked bread and fresh fruit set before her by one of her servant girls, before donning a light cloak and preparing to go out.
Walking down the path from her home, she contemplated where she would station herself today. Yesterday she had stood just inside the city gate, where all comers and goers would pass by, and the day before she had stood on the little hill beside the road leading into town. She gazed searchingly at the heavenly blue sky above, as if making a petition, and a moment later, she had her answer. Yes, this morning she would venture into the marketplace, as this was the main market day. Her step quickened, and soon she joined the jostling throngs in the crowded central square. She tousled the curly hair of a small boy, who looked up at her grinning as she passed, and purposefully took her place near the busiest stalls.
Other than the boy, no one had paid much attention to her up to that point. Everyone was intent upon his or her business, and she was just another face in the crowd. That is, until she opened her mouth, raised her voice, and began to speak. “Foolish people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy making fun of knowledge? Will you never learn? Listen when I reprimand you; I will give you good advice and share my knowledge with you.”(i)
The buzz of conversation around her abruptly stopped, heads snapped in her direction, and all eyes were fixed quizzically upon her. There was a mix of anger and pain in her voice and a sparking fire in her eyes that held them motionless for a moment.
She continued, “Are you immature? Learn to be mature. Are you foolish? Learn to have sense. Listen to my excellent words; all I tell you is right. What I say is the truth; lies are hateful to me…nothing is false or misleading. To the man with insight, it is all clear; to the well-informed, it is all plain. Choose my instruction instead of silver, choose knowledge rather than the finest gold.”(ii)
She went on, pleading passionately with the people to listen to her teaching and follow it, but some turned away and went back to their shopping, others booed and laughed at her words, and a few even picked up small stones and tossed them at her. One man said to his companion, “She’s just a crazy street teacher who hangs around town nearly every day. Yesterday I saw her at the city gate, where she was haranguing us with the same message. Calls herself Wisdom. I just ignore her.” Only a very few in the crowd actually listened thoughtfully before they, too, finally drifted away.
When it was time for the noon meal, she slowly left the marketplace and meditatively made her way back home. A new idea began forming in her mind. She would plan a special feast, decorate the table with flowers and her best dishes, and send her servant girls back to the marketplace to invite whoever was willing to come to her home for a meal. Maybe then they would finally heed her words. She could only hope.
(i)Proverbs 1:22,23 (TEV)
(ii)Proverbs 8:5-10 (TEV)
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