A lucky man meets Sophia. A smart man welcomes and nurtures her friendship. An even smarter man courts Sophia, woos her, desires her, falls in love with her. Takes the plunge and marries her. Let’s her move in.
Who is Sophia? Oh my …
Sophia is a woman who can change the way you think of things/ She laughs at what you know because she knows what you don’t see/ Sophia is a lady come to bridle blind ambition/ Sophia is a nightmare and dream
Sophia (the Greek sophos) is Wisdom. It’s a feminine noun. In theology, it’s a feminine name for God. As in, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Wisdom is not the same as “smarts.” Not the same as knowledge or I.Q. Not the same as analysis and logic. It’s not linear, or even necessarily sequential. Logic says if a = b, and b = c, then a = c. Great. Right-o. But try living a deeply meaningful and satisfying life relying only on logic. Good luck with that.
Just try falling in love, logically. Or having great sex, logically. Grieving deeply, logically. Forgiving or accepting forgiveness, logically. See how useful logic is to you when the doctor tells you you’re going to die. Which had always been true, of course, but only wisdom can help us embrace a meaningful death.
Wisdom is an intuitive discipline that weaves parts into a whole. Wisdom ‘sees’ those astonishing, pregnant moments in the human experience when a = b and b = c, and, therefore, a = the whole damn alphabet! Just because it does. Just because Sophia knows that it does.
Wisdom is synthesis; not analysis.
Intuition, by definition, is irrational. But only a man trapped (and therefore damned) inside his head could possibly use the word “irrational” as a disdainful, sexist put-down. Because the word “irrational,” when used objectively, merely means “not rational.” And thank God. Because nothing is more tragically irrational (in the pejorative sense) than the idea that rationale alone could ever make us fully human.
I try to turn her head with my facsimiles of manhood/ Bouquets of bright ideas I’m sure will woo my bride-to-be/ And just about the time that I find answers to the questions/ The questions change and she just laughs at me
Wisdom is the bastion of The Feminine. Which isn’t to say all women are wise, or to say that a man can’t become wise. It’s just to say that, when a man does become wise, it’s because he meets Sophia. He encounters The Woman. From within and from without.
Sometimes a man meets Sophia within himself. His mind is decisively confronted by his soul. C.G. Jung called this anima – the part of a man’s unconscious inviting his head to connect with his heart. Which is good, because a man whose head is unacquainted or estranged from his heart is, on a good day, a one-dimensional man. And, sooner or later, a miserable man. Sometimes he’s dangerous. Even deadly. Lethal to himself and others.
Sometimes a man meets Sophia in a significant religious practice. He meets God as Nemesis. God as Coyote, The Trickster. The God who confounds and bamboozles and turns things upsidedown. The God who wounds him, breaks his heart, so that he might finally be obliged to listen to his heart.
And sometimes, if he’s lucky, he meets Sophia in a great love with an actual, living, breathing woman.
What am I hearing, these aren’t violins/ I’m no kind of man that I ever have been/ When she means to love me, the change begins
Here’s something you’ll never see in a Hallmark card: when a man gives a woman his whole heart, it’s one part joy and two parts wholly terror! Because Sophia sees right through the man. She sees what is small, cowardly, and emotionally dishonest. She sees the Poser. She hears the whistle of the thundering locomotive that is his prodigious ego waaay before it pulls into the station.
Yet, she loves him. So she doesn’t manipulate, control, shame, or become invasive and intruding. She might get angry, yes, even passionate and loud; but she doesn’t snipe, bitch, and criticize. In love for him and respect for herself, she renders her near surgical observations followed by her unrelenting claim: she expects the man to be a man. To show up. To grow up.
You can chase Sophia across a lifetime of opinion/ You might as well pour rainbows in the dark and hope to see/ Because Sophia is a butterfly that lights upon surrender/ She comes when you respect the mystery
A smart man hears the voice of Sophia. And he surrenders. Submits. Suddenly there is less of him. And, just as suddenly, there is more.
(Steven Kalas is an author, a therapist and an Episcopal priest. He writes weekly on “Human Matters” for this newspaper. Readers may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)