Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ecclesiastes, Easter, and a Prayer Request

It's been a quiet week around the blog. I've been reading plenty interesting material on others, but have had little inclination to write here. Call it the post-Easter lull.

Lectio divina was an excellent discipline for Lent. I read through Luke and Mark, noting some fascinating corners of them both that I've paid little attention to in previous readings. I'm continuing this discipline, and have decided to focus on Ecclesiastes. Here's a shorter book tucked away in the wisdom writings that I think has a great deal to teach us. It is written by 'the Teacher' (or 'Preacher'), who by tradition is thought to be Solomon. The notable refrain in this book is that 'all is vanity and a chasing after wind,' speaking of toil, generations passing away and not being remembered, seeking wisdom and riches, and so on.

The temptation with Ecclesiastes is to glean a moral from the book summed up as such: 'See...this is what happens when you seek pleasure in earthly riches.' This is, I think, too simplistic. The Teacher is making observations on how temporary we are in the whole of existence, yet also reflecting on how life is a gift from God. We just can't let ourselves get hung up so much on the particularities, such as sucking up knowledge, leaving a legacy, and in general thinking that we're more important than we really are. There's a certain humility that undergirds the book's cynicism that I am appreciating more and more.

Easter went well, save for one thing. Back at the beginning of Lent, we sang a slow repetition of 'Alleluia.' You would know it if you heard it, probably. It's a meditative chorus...has a couple verses...well, anyway, as we sang, baskets were passed down the pews and everyone had a slip of paper that said 'Alleluia' on it. As each person dropped his/her slip in the basket they stopped singing. It was to symbolize how we don't sing Alleluia during Lent. Well, we passed them back out on Easter. What was supposed to be a joyful chorus ended as a sleepy drone. Basically we needed more baskets to pass them out more quickly. No complaints about the rest of the service, though.

And if anyone could remember my father-in-law in their prayers, that would be appreciated. He's looking at a liver transplant sometime over the next several months. His liver developed a few clots, which has in turn produced some spleen issues, which has in turn produced some blood issues and ammonia backup issues.

So right now that's my life in a nutshell. Not really. But I figured I should write something.

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