For our final Sunday of the Easter season before Pentecost we use the image, the “Sirach Carpet Page”, which closes the Wisdom volume of The Saint John’s Bible. There is no scripture passage associated with this page, as it marks the end of the entire volume. However, we see written at the bottom of the page, “She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her: those who hold her fast are called happy.” We also see a stamp that was prominently used in the illumination “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. The colors used are those same colors that we saw in the “Garden of Desire.” We are brought back to the images, knowledge, and inspiration of the entire volume before this.
“She is a tree of life”. We have learned a lot about Wisdom from these books and from the Wisdom illuminations. She was present with creation. She identifies herself with the voice of the Lord. People must find her in order to find life and find God. Wisdom is not God, but she is how we come to know God. She is the connection between the Lord, and the created world. Therefore, it makes sense that we see on this final page, the image of a tree and the words that “She is a tree of life.” Not only was she present since before the creation of the universe, but also she is the link between God and the created world. It is through her that each of us will be able to find God and create our identity as a people of God.
We leave the Wisdom books with an image of Wisdom as life giving. And yet, the scattered-ness of the stamp also sends the message that it is hard to grasp at. We are left being told to embrace life, embrace wisdom, and continue to seek her out in all we do. As Susan Sink says, “In the end we are encouraged to live, to experience beauty, and always to seek God and God’s partner in creation, Wisdom.” (The Art of the Saint John’s Bible: Wisdom Books and Prophets, 52)
© 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.