Read: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.
This passage from Ecclesiastes was one of the first things I remember reading in the Bible on my own. I didn’t have to do it for confirmation or a school project. I was simply led to it on my own time. I read it, and I read it again. Wisdom’s cry captured me then and there. Her truth has woven through the roots of faith and remains a source for me whenever I find myself struggling.
I understand why some people may have a hard time with this passage. From one perspective it might seem to be saying all life is meaningless. However, seeing it only in this way is a lie. It is a twist of truth. The truth in this passage is that all of creation is connected and in this connection, we find meaning. It is not our ego, the name we make for ourselves, or our originality that makes life matter. It is the awe and glory that comes from recognizing and celebrating our connectedness. In our connectedness, we are reminded that none of us came into existence, or continue our existence, on our own. We are all created beings. We cannot continue to live without each other.
So here we are, home. In our commitment to staying home and providing space for all living things, we are living this truth. We are dependent on each other.
Staying home has made me more aware of my internal struggles. I’ve been forced to face myself, my questions, my doubts, my big, big feelings… I don’t have the same distractions I used to have. I also can’t hide them from those I live with as easily because they see me all day every day, not just in the morning as we get ready before work, or in the evening hours as we zone out on TV before bed. I do not say this with regret. Rather, I recognize these truths with gratitude.
The longer I live through this pandemic, the more I find myself returning to myself. I am remembering who I am, what drives the work and hobbies I do. I am returning to my core relationships, remembering and living the commitment of my marriage vows, continuing my relationship as a daughter to my mother, but from a new paradigm, as adults.
In many ways, this stay home order has become an opportunity to return to my true home. These struggles are not my personal enemy; they are a normal, every-day occurrence for all of creation. This is what our fragile life is all about – vulnerability.
True living means embracing the struggle. Through the struggle, we grow (and maybe even change). Embracing our vulnerability, struggle, and dependency on all of creation makes room for awe. Awe can transform the most basic truths into life changing miracles.
As we continue to live this time of staying home, take this time as an opportunity to return home. Return to your Self. Return to our Creator. Return and be revitalized. The end is the beginning. Life continues. We are all connected. When we return to ourselves, we return to the One who holds all things. Home. Wow.
Pray: God, Creator of All, open our hearts, ears, and eyes so that we may be wowed by your truth. Guide us home to you and fill us with your compassion, so that we may live the full, interconnected lives that you created for us. Amen
The following poem by Marie Howe quakes with Wisdom’s truth. Enjoy.