“I was there”. These three simple words, written on the right side of this week’s illumination, can hold great meaning, wonder, and even power. When looking through pictures of places I’ve traveled to, I say with a sense of accomplishment, “I was there”. We may say the same words with excitement when recalling a party or celebration, or with reverence when describing a great tragedy. “I was there” connects us directly with moments in time and space. This illumination contains four portraits from Genesis and Exodus; four snapshots of pivotal moments in these narratives. As we recall these moments – Creation, the Great Flood, the Pillar of Fire in Exodus, and the Promised Land, we can almost hear the voice of Wisdom: “I was there”. Gold and silver bars are scattered throughout the illumination, connecting Wisdom’s presence in these moments as closely as God’s presence. Solomon affirms this: “With you is Wisdom, she who knows your works.”
Where was Wisdom in these moments? After all, was it not God who created the heavens, the earth, and all living things? Was it not God who destroyed all but Noah and the ark in the Great Flood; God who delivered the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land? On Good Friday we saw Jesus nailed to the cross. Was Wisdom there? This illumination tells us that she was. These images show Wisdom’s creative power and connection to human life. She was present at the Creation, she was present throughout history, and she continues to be present today. We see this most especially in the breaking of the bread each week. Wisdom, a prefiguration of Christ, is in the Eucharist and is made present before us. And just as we are present in that holy moment, so too were there at the crucifixion. These stories depicted in the illumination are ones that many of us are very familiar with. Our memories of these stories, like the memories of those places we have traveled to, show us that we were also there. As we continue to journey onwards, may we be present and recognize Holy Wisdom in the graced moments of our lives.
© Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.