Saturday, September 15, 2007

a grievous task

As I sat in my living room last night and listened to a friend talk about her experience reading the book of Ecclesiastes, one point in particular stuck with me. It was a phrase she mentioned regarding “this world we must live in until the resurrection”. What I heard was “until heaven gets here, we must endure what is before us.” NO. My internal sensor yelled. I don’t just want to endure and I don’t want to wait. I want to live and I want to experience heaven here and now! Is it possible? I say, YES! (Not, of course, the sugary sweet, angels floating on clouds & playing harps thing ☺).

“And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of man.” Ecclesiastes 1:13

Seeking and exploring “all that has been done under heaven.” What? Seeking and exploring. Broadening our horizons. To see. To see much is grievous. To live in the dark, is that any less grievous? It hurts to have our eyes opened to the world.

It is a grievous task to seek all AND it is glorious. It is in the seeking and exploring that life happens. Not in simply enduring until the end of the journey. The seeking and exploring speak to heaven and hell on earth. Both/and. So when we take on this grievous task, it is severe and serious. It demands great skill (or at least desire) and resiliency. We are tested and stretched. We must become flexible so that we may bend without breaking. Flexibility defined says that after bending we may not return to our previous shape. (I believe in most cases that is probably not a bad thing.)

It is in the seeking and exploring that we become flexible and more present to “all that has been done under heaven.” Sitting and waiting can atrophy us. (Please know, I am NOT talking about contemplation here.) We become rigid, unchanging and ineffective. To avoid this, we must move. We must journey. Up and down the winding path. In and out. Fluid like the water of a flowing river. It is the journey in which we are cleansed. Washed. Nearly drowned at times. Making splashes by refusing to be complacent. Shedding tears of beauty and tears of sorrow. Journeying with wisdom through the grievous task set before us.

Let us not simply endure and wait. Let us choose to live and experience life here and now.

7 comments:

Sue said...

Hello again :)

If I thought that it was "pie in the sky when I die" but in the meantime it's just hell on earth, I would have done myself in long ago (after first working out whether suicide would send me to hell, but I don't believe in a hell of eternal torment anyway, so no problems there, haha!)

I am discovering more on this journey than I ever thought possible, right here and now. Problem is, the dark times seem to be increasing as well. Increasing joy, increasing suffering. This life is a strange beast, but I think God has broken through. It's just now for us to discover it :) (And our stupid Western religious heritage is one of the biggest bondages, but I digress)

Sunrise Sister said...

Lucy - AMEN! So beautifully written - I start my day today with your inspiration, along with the John Squadra poem and UTUBE David Solomon from NWC's 9/14/07 post.....

Sunrise Sister said...

the photo speaks volumes as well...

The Dream said...

"we must move. we must journey" - i totally agree, lucy. it's all about action for me. if i am longing to have an ever-deepening relationship with God, i need to be fully present and ready to take the right actions. it's the whole being human thing that botches the connection, at times.

Country Parson said...

Ecclesiastes is a magnificent work of relatively late origin that expresses with real authority the mind of a man sinking into the depths of depression, but not without first trying every conceivable way of bringing pleasure into his life. It is not unlike the story of Sidhartha. "The teacher" of Ecclesiastes was able to hang onto a core of sanity that brought him some sense of relieve and purpose, and that was to take comfort in one's daily work and the abiding presence of God, even when God cannot be felt. It has been a story of much consolation to more than a few of those who have come to me suffering from bi-polar disorders and clinical depression. That may seem strange, but it assures them that they have not been forgotten in scripture, that someone thousands of years ago could speak on their behalf, and that they have not been excluded from God's people and the hope of God's blessings.

lucy said...

many thoughtful comments here. thank you all for interacting with this post.

Gabrielle said...

Beautiful post. I love what you said about flexibility, Lucy. Also, the sitting and waiting that causes atrophy - no, indeed, you could not be speaking of contemplation there, for the sitting and waiting in contemplative prayer is really very active, isn't it, full of attentiveness and receptivity, which takes energy!