Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage (Proverbs 3:13-35) transported me to the moviehouse where a classic from the 70s is playing, Man of La Mancha, starring Peter O’Toole as Don Quixote, James Coco as Sancho Panza, and Sophia Loren as the skullery maid/prostitute idealized by Quixote as Dulcinea (a name that means “sweetness”). What drew me to this was the passage’s characterization of the treasured woman Wisdom, which is Sophia in the Greek tongue. The description of Sophia found in the Proverbs Passage is similar to Cervantes’ description of Dulcinea (Sophia L on the silver screen): Her name is Dulcinea, her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman, since all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her; for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare.
Similarly, the proverbial Sophia is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies, nothing you desire can compare with her. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honor. Here ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, those who lay hold of her will be blessed.
In Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, this week’s Primary Passage, the greedy Master is focused on the yield his money managers were able to gain from the millions he left in their care. The third money manager, opting out of this system, must have been more interested in laying hold of sweet Sophia than laying hold of the vast wealth he could get from foolish swindling. For he knew that it was by Sophia that the Lord laid the world’s foundations, according to this Proverb. And Wisdom, just like Sophia Loren, has some particular appealing features: she doesn’t choose violence or envy the ways of violent people, she mocks the proud and is gracious to the humble and inherits honor. These are the curves and measurements of faith, attractive enough for followers of Jesus to put them on posters and hang on the wall. It’s an idealistic dream, putting me in mind of Quixote singing on stage, Dulcinea, Dulcinea, I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea, and thy name is like a prayer, and angel whispers, Dulcinea, Dulcinea! Sweet Sophia, sweet Jesus, I see heaven when I see thee!
How about you? Where does this Poetry Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.