Friday, February 17, 2012

Is That All There Is?


I assume that you, like I, have heard the following five phrases over and over again through the media, acquaintances, or songs.
  1. Some things never change. 
  2. History repeats itself. 
  3. Nothing is new. 
  4. Some people are never satisfied. 
  5. Is that all there is, my friends? 

Last night as I picked up my bible to move it across the desk, the pages fell open to the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 1. Over the last 10 years I have learned to stop and read when the pages are presented in a seemingly accidental happening. The first few verses of Ecclesiastes are summarized by the five phrases listed above. Some things never change. History repeats itself. Nothing is new. Some people are never satisfied. Is that all there is, my friends?

These are the words of the Teacher, King David's son, who ruled in Jerusalem. 
"Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "utterly meaningless!" 
What do people get for all their hard work? Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. 
History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn't already exist long ago? We don't remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
—Ecclesiastes 1: 1-11


I was left wondering what I'm supposed to learn from this reading, so I went back to the introduction paragraphs for Ecclesiastes. To paraphrase—King Solomon who is known as the wisest man who ever lived (and possibly the richest) is having a talk with himself about LIFE itself. We are told that Solomon had it all but didn't realize how blessed he was until near the end of his life. In the interim, Solomon made a mess of his life just as we do. He formed disappointing relationships and unsatisfactory business ventures. Almost too late, Solomon realized there was no point in having any of it if he didn't recognize that all was a gift from God. 

One of my favorite bible passages is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "A Time for Everything" in chapter 3, but today I start with chapter 1 and will read the 12 chapters of Ecclesiastes through and ask how this applies to my life now. What is the serendipity of the accidental opening of pages to the Book of Ecclesiastes? Perhaps the meaning for me is to be found again in chapter 3. 

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