Pirke Avot 1:4

Let your house be a meeting place for the wise; you shall become dusty in the dust of their feet; and you shall drink in their words thirstily.

Let your house be a meeting place for the wise.   Welcome wise people – in whatever shape, color, age, sex, profession etc. they may come in.  Treat them as honored guests so that they will come back again and again.

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the Doctors of the Church, one of the most learned and wise men of his age – or any age!

Seen here even in heaven engaged in discussion, in debate, in listening and learning.

Yes, it’s THAT important!

Let your house be a gathering place for the wise and learned in scripture, in the stories of the saints and of our tradition, and of our history.  Some of these learned people will be harder to learn from than others – some will be dry, others humorless, others very demanding.  We can learn something from each one of them.  Not all the wise and learned folks will have degrees and teaching positions!

Become dusty in the dust of their feet –  be willing to listen!.  In ancient times students literally sat at the feet of  a teacher who was seated comfortably.  It was a humbling place to be, but – that is where we need to be if we are going to learn from them.   It does us no good at all to have scholars and wise folks all around us if we cannot bring ourselves to admit these others know things that we don’t!  It does us no good if we are not willing to let go of our pride to listen and to learn.  Ask questions.  Admit it when you don’t understand.

Drink in their words thirstily.  Be nourished by their words and grow.  A favorite biblical image of this is the tree planted near water.


Trees along the Tiber River in Rome.




Trees along a pond in Brookside Gardens.

Both pictures taken by Peter Barbernitz.

Unlike trees – we get to choose what we will soak up.  We know that who we hang out with, spend time with, will shape us.  So, it seems wise to spend time with wise people and not fools.  It seems wise to eat dinner and spend our evenings with wise people – not garbage TV.

Wise folks not only come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – but can be present with us in many ways.  Books and all that we read.  Films and good TV.

Ancient wisdom for us today – surround yourself and your family with the best of knowledge and true wisdom.  Immerse one’s self in them, drink in their words.  Dare to question, to debate – after you listen.

Some starter questions:

  1. Who is the wisest person you have ever met?
  2. What did they teach you?
  3. Can ‘mass media’ like TV, films, books and papers really bring wise people into your home?