Solomon, A Kindred Spirit

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;

the more knowledge, the more grief.

ecclesiastes 1:18

i think that in heaven, solomon and i will be great friends. i feel him when he writes these words. so often i will read something or hear something and immediately think, “i wish i didn’t know about that…” because of the sorrow it causes, the grief it brings. but i almost as quickly recount that thought, knowing that just because i don’t know about something doesn’t take away the pain someone feels, it simply reduces my discomfort. but heaven knows, my own discomfort is quickly reduced as news from the sudan or the hearsay of someone’s tragic circumstance fades away from my immediate consciousness. my heavy heart is quickly salved by my own self-absorbed life wonderings or by something good to eat.

still, i want to know. i want “much wisdom” and more knowledge,” even if it brings sadness. i don’t want to absolve myself from my part in the suffering of the world with ignorance. and i don’t believe that we are absolved from responsibility with ignorance anyway. i think i will have to account for how the life i live here and now causes there to be less for others somewhere else. i also want the depth that comes with “much wisdom.” solomon said that wisdom is more precious than gold, that it leads to life well-lived, that it protects you and exalts you, that it is the beginning of a fear of the Lord. so i want wisdom, with my whole heart, and i want the change that wisdom painfully squeezes from my stubborn, selfish existence.

because change doesn’t come naturally for us humans, i think i have to continually put myself in the path of knowledge of suffering. this is why i read the newspaper, watch sad movies, read devastating memoirs and listen to people tell their stories. these acts, coupled with my bible and the holy spirit, effect change in my heart, which eventually (but oh so slowly) leads to change in my life. growth. compassion. however small it may seem from the outside. somehow there is a connection between someone telling me today a sad story about a mom in texas and how i treat another mom i see tomorrow at the grocery store. because now i want to be the mom who is willing to say, “everyone feels that way sometimes. you’re not alone.” or something…something.

there is a connection between reading and doing. between praying and acting. between knowing and changing. it is far too easy in north america to shut out those connections. there are so many distractions and desires. but i want to keep all of those connections flowing in my life. even if i am a little depressed now and then…or more pertinent, depressing to be around. if i have to be depressed sometimes in order to bring hope and joy to a difficult moment at others, so be it.

…wisdom will enter your heart,

and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

discretion will protect you

and understanding will guard you.

proverbs 2:10-11


  1. Wow, Alison. You really hit a nerve for me. I know exactly how you feel. There are times that I just sit and sob for the pain that others are going through. I pray that this pain (theirs and mine) will push me to do things that might positively impact someone else. So often it’s easier to close our eyes and try to make it all go away, but it doesn’t work that way does it?!

  2. i so identify with that ecclesiaste verse. i have been guilty of telling Bruce, “i wish i were stupid. then i wouldn’t care about some of this stuff.” but then i judge my loved ones for being judgmental or egocentric (as if i am personally immune to such sins). you crystallized it so well with this sentence: “i don’t want to absolve myself from my part in the suffering of the world with ignorance.”

    i wish i could put that sentence in a jar and release it when i visit my family. i have never been able to express it as well. thank you.

  3. […] stream-of consciousness-nonsense with which I bored my 8 […]

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