There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
They search the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light.
But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
Job 28:1, 9-12 (NIV)
I read the other day, and I’ve heard it said before, that younger generations are choosing to ignore black and white films. We live in a world of three dimensional, Ultra HD technology in which anything you can imagine in your mind can be visually generated by a computer. I can understand how masses of younger viewers would foolishly conclude that there is nothing for them in an old black and white movie. I suppose the same masses would find no value worthy of their time in an epic poem about one man’s suffering rooted in the depths of history and carried through the ages by oral tradition and religious scribes.
In today’s chapter, that epic poem reaches an interlude which asks a simple question: Humanity will search the depths of the earth for gold and treasure, but where do you mine for wisdom?
This made me think of a classic movie filmed in black and white. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 film starring Humphrey Bogart and it tells the story of two American men, down on their luck, who go prospecting for gold in the mountains of Mexico. The men find their gold, but begin to lose their wits and their souls in the process. In the end the gold is lost, but the men may just have gained a treasure of greater weight in wisdom.
This morning, I’m thinking about that which we value as compared to that which is treasure of real worth. I’m thinking about the treasure of an ancient, epic poem, the treasure of an out-of-fashion black and white film, and the treasure of wisdom. Wisdom, our interlude reminds us, is not mined in the depths of the earth like the precious metals we value, but is found in the depths of our valuable and precious suffering.