It will not surprise you to hear that I’m in a local writers group. Several months ago we had a guest presentor who talked about reimagining familiar stories. Since it’s one thing to talk about a skill and another to actually try it, he gave us homework and then came back the next month to discuss our stories.
This year I have been studying proverbs and the idea that wisdom calls out to us won’t leave me be. While I could share many verses about wisdom calling out to us, I’ll just share this one:
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice.” Proverbs 1:20 ESV
I can picture wisdom on the dusty streets of a crowded Jerusalem market. But I wondered what “crying aloud” and “raising her voice” look like today. My dear friends Bill and Amy Lester sent their daughter Kate to her freshman year of college this fall. What does it look like for wisdom to cry out to a college freshman? That was the question I explored in one of my rare works of fiction.
dedicated to my niece
in her freshman year of college
Will you hear her?
Lucy knew it wasn’t the best way to start her day, but that didn’t stop her for reaching for her phone even before she opened her eyes. She scrolled with one eye opened and the other refusing to greet the day. Pausing at one of her favorite foodies, Lucy “loved” the picture of a gorgeous picnic basket and the caption:
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
An audible sigh escaped and she regretted staying up so late with three other freshmen from her floor. They weren’t bad kids, but if she were honest, they might fall more in the “fool” category than the “wise.” Her left eye had decided to get on board with the plan to wake up and with that, Lucy did a full body stretch and got out of bed.
Heading out for breakfast, she checked her phone and saw a text from her mom. “Morning! I hope your Spanish presentation goes well today! Remember: Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread :). You’ve ‘worked your land’ and today you will have some bread! I’m proud of you and praying for you!” If anyone had been around, Lucy would have rolled her eyes at such a Mom Text, but since she was alone, she texted back “Thanks Mom” with the heart emoji.
Soon was waiting for Lucy by the elevator. It was a running joke that whoever arrived first would hold the elevator for the other one no matter how long they had to keep everyone else in the building waiting. They laughed every morning because Soon’s twenty-one-day streak of beating Lucy to the elevator was still going strong; and since Lucy was late to everything it was highly unlikely that she would ever hold their elevator hostage waiting for Soon.
When they got to the cafeteria they both headed for the cereal bar and settled into a comfortable silence as they automatically moved towards their usual spot by the window. Before they arrived, their Resident Assistant called for them to come and join her. Why not? They shrugged at each other and vectored over to her. Allison was known for being friendly, but not normally an early riser so Lucy wondered why she was eating breakfast. “Hey ladies! Fancy meeting you at this time of the day,” Allison greeted them.
She went on to explain that she had an accounting test later in the day and was completely not ready, so she needed to cram. “I never pull all-nighters, instead, I get up early and cram, cram, cram. Sleep and coffee are my secret weapons.”
Soon and Lucy just nodded, it was too early for any kind of clever response to coffee and cramming. Allison continued bubbling on, clearly buzzed from the caffeine, until she finished breakfast and headed off for a bit more coffee and cramming. Lucy and Soon also finished and walked back to their floor. When they stepped off the elevator Soon wished Lucy good luck on her Spanish presentation and said she’d look forward to hearing all about it at dinner.
Lucy quickly brushed her teeth and walked across campus to her first class of the day. Thank God Spanish was first so she didn’t have to have the dreaded presentation hanging over her head for long! When the professor asked who wanted to go first, a girl Lucy didn’t know well raised her hand. The professor called on her and she stood up to go to the front of the room. The assignment had been to translate a short passage into Spanish so as Jessica walked to the front she texted a link of the original passage in English to the class. Along with others in the class Lucy opened her phone and saw:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Though Lucy couldn’t have said where exactly in the Bible the words came from, she was 99% sure they were from the Bible. Jessica was bold when it came to her faith; so she didn’t hesitate with the presentation which included translating the passage into Spanish, saying what it meant to her, and why she had chosen it for the assignment. Seeing that Jessica lived through the presentation, Lucy volunteered to go next and was relieved her presentation was over before she knew it.
The rest of her morning flowed without incident and Lucy found herself back in the cafeteria picking up her lunch. Since she didn’t see anyone she knew, she got a to-go box and took her lunch outside. Leaning up against a tree she pulled out her phone while she ate an apple. Lucy clicked on a video with over 17 million views and listened to “Lady Sophia” rap about how she existed before the beginning of the earth. Not quite as good as Hamilton, but not bad, Lucy thought as she finished up her lunch.
Her afternoon was uneventful. Classes, homework, and a brief call with her mom. The only annoying part was that the line “I was there” from Lady Sophia was stuck in her head and it was driving her nuts!
“When he established the heavens, I was there.”
“Before the I can’t remember was shaped, I was there.”
“When he assigned the blah blah its limit, I was there.”
I was there. I was there. I was there, annoying you. I was there.
Finally, it was dinner time and Lucy seriously hoped that talking with Soon would stop the madness going on in her head! Soon asked about Lucy’s Spanish presentation and Lucy said, “It wasn’t bad” and told Soon about stumbling over a line. “But other than that, I guess it was okay.” Since it was Chinese food night, each girl took a generous helping of twice-fried green beans and Kung Pao Chicken. Lucy asked Soon about her day and unlike Lucy, Soon had had a very eventful day and proceeded to fill Lucy in on every little detail. By the end of the meal, Lucy could have hugged Soon because the rap was no longer stuck on a loop in her head. As they left the cafeteria each girl grabbed a fortune cookie.
Lucy’s fortune read, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Soon’s said, “A friend is a present you give yourself.” They laughed at how their fortunes went together, just like they did. Though it had only been a few weeks since they met, they already thought of themselves as friends. And though it was a typical day, Lucy thought of herself as one of the luckiest people in the world as she headed back to her dorm room for an evening of homework.
Later, she climbed into bed earlier than she the night before. Lucy drifted off to sleep covered in her parents’ prayers that she find wisdom. Wisdom smiled knowing that Lucy might not always hear her. But just as she had been doing since before the market days in Jerusalem, she, the original Lady Sophia, would continue calling out to Lucy all the days of her life.