The human being, in his or her majestic complexity, is almost inscrutable.
We only rarely know ourselves, and never exhaustibly. How then can we know another?
The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5 ESV)
What is his end game? What does she want? What is his deepest passion? How can she find what she seeks?
U2’s famous declaration that ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ may owe only half its lament to the elusiveness of prey. The other half of the seeker’s inability precisely to describe the thing without which his heart remains unsettled.
The biblical anthology of proverbs maintains its confidence in wisdom’s potency even here, faced with one of its most formidable challenges.
The wise person, we are told, will summon up those reservoirs of perception and patience that will allow him to lay bare even the otherwise impenetrable purpose of another human being’s heart.
We stand at the edge of a stream, smiling as its waters cascade over rocks under a blue sky. We see the texture beneath, boulder by boulder, hearing the flow’s liquid music.
Then over a lip the water pours, into a deep pool. We no longer know what’s down there, seeing now only swirls upon the surface. Without the organs of sight that deeper perception would require, we can only wonder.
The wise person comes to this point when face to face with his peer, yet the ordinary barriers of understanding do not stop him there. He draws out of his conversation partner the deep purpose of his heart, which that man himself may not yet know.
Wisdom performs, again, its gentle magic.