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Vanity of vanities…

Most people are familiar with that song from The Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn.  And many people know it is taken almost directly from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  The lyrics for the song don’t begin until the 3rd chapter of that book.  Have you read the whole book?  It begins, (in verse 2), “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”.  Depending on your translation it may say futility.  All is futility… not necessarily a hopeful message.  🙂

The text is traditionally thought to be one of the wisdom texts of King Solomon and the entire book, including the chapter that has those popular song lyrics, talks about the futility of live.  I reread the entire book yesterday…I guess I have been feeling futile.  It can be a dry read but if you have never read it, you should.  It is very profound.  A great King who talks about how his wisdom has given him nothing more than any other man because of the futility of live.  We “chase the wind”.  In chapter 1:18 it says, “Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain”.  I think that is where the idea of ignorance is bliss came from.

I find I can relate to King Solomon.  Not that I am wise but that I search for meaning and am not always able to find it.  I ponder questions like; what am I doing, why does this matter and have a hard time finding a satisfying answer.  The reason for that is actually very simple, but no less profound.  And Solomon speaks of it in the text too.  The meaning is to spend as much time enjoying what you have been given for that is all that you have.  Rich, poor, king, slave, man, woman, wise, foolish.  We “all go to the same place.  All [come] from the dust and all return to the dust” (Ecc 3:20).  Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people and all is futile so don’t measure your happiness against it.  Instead spend your time making each moment as beautiful as you can.  Instead make choices each day that bring you joy.  I guess the trick would is to be aware enough to know what will bring you joy in every moment.

This period of transition I find myself in right now is I suppose a blessing in that I am discovering those things that bring me joy.  It isn’t pleasant really, but I’m certain I will find myself looking back at this time in gratitude.  It’s hard to remember that as I go through my days trying to answer big questions with little answers.  Simple answers.  I suppose that is a good place to start.



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