This morning, Friday, as I enjoyed the blessing of quiet sun and coffee I turned to Ecclesiastes 5. Solomon’s words express some of my worries -- regrets, frustration and fear. And yet, they give me a way through these uncertain days:
. . . So let your words be few. Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
. . . It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake.
. . . Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
. . . Those who love money will never have enough.
. . . . Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children.
. . . Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
On Monday, we attended a celebration of one woman’s life – a long time friend of Doug’s family, who lived to ninety and nine years. Affectionately known as “Tib,” Elizabeth Woodward Jones, accepted and enjoyed the life God gave her; she stayed busy caring for herself and those in her charge. Her granddaughter read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, a familiar passage to most people – but broke down, perhaps because the reality of her loss weighed heavy. In all the times of which Solomon described, the companionship of loved ones makes bearable much that is unbearable – and delightful the times of pleasure.
The good memories of others whose presence has changed me are not more valuable than the memories of the pain they caused. Even the worries and wonders [can] have a point: They are all aids, which got me to where I am today – refiners -- to make me a better traveling companion, God willing.