Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

Year A

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost


July 26, 2020

Revised Common Lectionary

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Paintbox. If you're new to the site, you can learn more by visiting the about page. Each week you'll find links to interdisciplinary lessons followed by my collecting question for the week and then my personal reflection.

Knowledge is something that evolves and devolves in the course of the human enterprise. Seeking wisdom entails both the search for knowledge and the embrace of mystery beyond the bounds of what we know.



Business & Technology

GitHub Archive Program Preserving open source software for future generations

GitHub Archive Program

GitHub Archive Program

Brief description of GitHub Arctic Code Vault, a repository of the world’s most valuable open source code.

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When recently have you experienced the limits of your own knowledge and a need to rely on the Spirit’s wisdom?


Solomon is considered the wisest person in Hebrew Scriptures. How did this come to be so? It began with an invitation from God, “Ask what I should give you.” Solomon knew what he did not know. He understood his need for wisdom. And that is what he asked God to give him.

In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul describes what happens when we do not know how to pray: the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit.

There is, perhaps, nothing that surpasses the value of our capacity to seek and receive wisdom. The Old English word from which we derive the term “wisdom” points not only to knowledge but to self control and prudence. The origin of the term “wisdom teeth” comes from Latin and Greek roots that also reflect self-control. The teeth were named because they come in during the time when a person reaches early adulthood.

Contained within wisdom is the awareness of when we do not know. This awareness leads us to the spiritual search. In times of our unknowing, the wise listen for and rely upon the Spirit who groans with sighs too deep for words. These moments of profound listening can be pivotal in our lives.

We take for granted a staggering amount of acquired knowledge in the human experience. Today’s science and nature lesson takes us to a vault deep inside the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole where open source software is being meticulously preserved for future generations in a decommissioned coal mine. The project includes even the simple explanation of the purpose of a computer, anticipating the possibility of future life forms who have no awareness of what we use every day to connect to others in our world. And near the software vault is another underground storage space, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, with seeds of millions of plants–a treasure chest that could allow the earth to repopulate much of the plant life we rely upon for sustenance and existence.

These preservation projects serve as reminders of the difference between the knowledge we possess at any given moment in human history and the wisdom that always guides and undergirds every aspect of the human enterprise. Knowledge has tremendous value; wisdom has insurmountable value. Wisdom contains both knowing and unknowing, and as such, serves as a worthy guide on a journey that can take us to the edge of existence and require us to listen for sighs too deep for words in order to begin again.