“All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
“And when I turned myself to all the works which my hands had wrought, and to the labours wherein I had laboured in vain, I saw in all things vanity, and vexation of mind, and that nothing was lasting under the sun. The eyes of a wise man are in his head: the fool walketh in darkness: and I learned that they were to die both alike. And I said in my heart: If the death of the fool and mine shall be one, what doth it avail me, that I have applied myself more to the study of wisdom? And speaking with my own mind, I perceived that this also was vanity.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14-15
I am fascinated by the book of Ecclesiastes for the reason that it speaks directly to my heart and to my own “vexation of mind” as I journey through life. This book helps me make sense of my life while at the same time providing a mysterious answer to my vexation, one that I know is right but cannot explain why it is right.
In the Fall of 2008, over a period of a few weeks and brought to life in an instant, I read the story of Joan of Arc for the first time and was irreversibly inspired to begin a search to know – to know myself, to know the world around me, and to know God. In an instant – through Joan’s inspiration – I needed to know, and I began to write. I refer to this process in my writings as “walking the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed” with St. Joan. At each crossroad, Joan always pointed to the lighted pathway representing the next phase of the journey.
In recent memory, I have struggled at another crossroad. I have known that my journey “to know” is celestially inspired; yet, at the same time, I have come also “to know” that it is all vanity. In the end, I have sensed that “the death of a fool and mine shall be one” and have wondered “what doth it avail me, that I have applied myself more to the study of wisdom?” For, “all things pass under heaven.”
Then my patroness pointed faithfully, and I could see once again the faint outline of the lighted Trail at the fork in the road. The signpost before it said:
“And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice, and to do well in this life. For every man that eateth and drinketh, and seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God. And I have found that nothing is better than for a man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his portion. For who shall bring him to know the things that shall be after him?” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, 22
The journey is the reward itself. Becoming who we are in eternity is the reward itself. The earthly goods, the earthly wisdom, and the earthly honors to which we cling along the way on this journey are like chaff for the fire, indeed, they are all vanity. The goal, for me, is to reach the end empty-handed and free.