Morning Coffee with Dave & Qohelet

qohelet

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yesterday, I graded essays from the course on Classical Judaism that I teach online. The students were to contrast the tone and genre of biblical texts from Exodus (where Moses gave the Law) and Ecclesiastes (where the Preacher assessed that life was meaningless). The responses from many of the students induced me to return to Ecclesiastes for awhile this morning. This book has held my attention since I first was directed to it when approaching the New Year back in 1973. Since then, I have always read from the text in winter time as the New Year drew close. And it has been a comfort to me in ways I have difficulty explaining. This a meditation from an aged sage who appears dissatisfied with all his worldly accomplishments. As he draws near to the end, he sees all this acts as empty, or meaningless. “Qohelet” is the Hebrew word that titles this Book, and has often been translated “Preacher”.

I’ll go ahead and drop the other shoe–though the author throughout the meditation calls life on earth “vanity”, he nevertheless concludes on a more positive note. No doubt many will insert the opinion that the conclusion was written by another hand, to take the sting out of the text, but that is another issue. Throughout the book, the author’s refrain is translated “vanity” in the King James Version. “Empty” is the author’s thrust. And in his concluding words, he urges the reader to fear God and keep his commandments, for that is what makes a person “whole.” This is why I like to read to the end. For the duration of the Book, the aged author hammers home that life has been empty, but concludes with a solution to what can make life whole.

The college-age students still assume that there is much life lying ahead of them, and I enjoy their perspectives when they grapple with readings such as this. With my own perspective drawn from a considerable distance down the road, I find myself looking both ways, in the fashion of Janus, the Roman god looking backward and forward simultaneously. Throughout yesterday and this morning, I have thought about this Odyssey I have experienced over sixty years, and have also looked ahead, resolving not to live with regrets. It goes without saying that I have encountered things that have created memories I would rather not have. But I cannot change that. On the positive side, life has overflowed with abundant gifts, providing memories that make me feel positive.

Gratitude flows from the depth of my being for the years I have been given, and I am even happier that it is not over yet. Today I meet yet another college class within the hour, and I am still glowing with warm sentiments over the encounter we had just two days ago. In fact, I have been anticipating for forty-eight hours the next time I get to see them and wrestle with these issues in Logic. Who would ever have thought that a professor and students could enjoy a period, studying Logic? Life at this age is still filled with the unanticipated, and I appreciate that as well.

Two days ago, I began work on new Christmas cards for the season approaching. Here is a photo of how two of them are coming along (they will be cut apart, making two 5 x 7″ cards). For three days in a row, I have relished time in the studio to experiment in watercolor, and that has been a gift as well.

qohelet 2

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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