The tragic loss of two 14 year-old boys in Florida last month brought back a lot of memories. While the Internet lit up with outrage at the parents for letting two boys go fishing in a 19-foot boat, I thought of my own childhood that involved a lot of boats.
Boats gave me an autonomy that nothing else could – I have been sailing since I was seven and I wasn’t much older than that when I was allowed to take out a 16 foot fishing boat with a 5 horsepower motor. Of course, that autonomy came with a great deal of responsibility. There were rules about when and where I could sail or fish. And even though I was much younger than some of the other boaters, often I was more versed in safety and seamanship.
That was the case with the boys in Florida. They grew up around boats; they knew their stuff. No one knows what their intentions were when they went out that day, but it seems like they exceeded their boundaries and the consequences were terrible. Even though I had strict rules on the lake and followed them most of the time, I have to admit that I exceeded my boundaries a few times. I got away with it both in terms of not getting caught, and in terms of nothing disastrous happening.
The lesson from Proverbs introduces us to Wisdom. Wisdom is described as a woman living in a house built on seven pillars. She mixes wine, prepares a feast and sends servants out to invite people to come. A few verses past our lesson, we are introduced to another woman. She is Folly. She does not prepare a feast but instead sits in her doorway and invites those passing by to come in. Her words are the same as Wisdom’s, but her table is spread with food and drink that has been stolen. Folly’s guests, the writer tells us, “are in the depths of Sheol.”
How quick we are in the face of such tragedy, to find someone to blame. Uncovering a scapegoat helps us to rest in the embracing arms of the delusion that terrible things won’t just happen. There doesn’t need to be a why or a who, terrible things do just happen. We all have taken a seat a Folly’s table and gorged ourselves.
The amazing thing about grace if that God loves those at Folly’s table just as much as those seated at Wisdom’s. Maybe even a little more.
Here is a portion of William Blake’s poem, “Auguries of Innocence:”
Man was made for joy and woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro the world we safely go
Joy and woe are woven fine
A clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine