How much news do you need to watch?
If you’re expecting “answers” about Covid-19, I’m going to disappoint you.
Because I honestly don’t have any.
Whenever I look at news feeds I instantly remind myself not to!
The amount of disinformation and contradictory statements have become a typhoon, it’s not even a raging river anymore.
The one thing about a river, it has a discernible beginning and endpoint.
You can see where it starts, and you can choose to avoid it because when not in flood, a river has boundaries.
They bring about forces of nature where a means of escape seldom exists.
Now wrap that proverbial typhoon around the globe and we’re in trouble!
But we already know that!
This footage shows the destructive power of nature unleashed!
The Destructive Path of 2018’s Strongest Storm
The video was uploaded in 2018.
So what does the ancient text of Ecclesiastes have to say about our current predicament?
More than we could’ve expected, but also much less!
Now, before I confuse you with ambiguous statements!
What was will be again.
Let’s dig into a few key verses!
Already in Ecclesiastes 1 Koheleth, the writer hits a serious home run!
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
(All scripture quotes are from Bible.com)
That’s the bottom line!
Nothing is new!
For that reason, I directed my attention to a video from 2018.
No doubt, that typhoon left profound scars on the lives of those who had to live through it.
But it’s already history.
And this current tragedy we’re experiencing will also become history, maybe sooner than we anticipated, and maybe later than we hoped!
He addresses natural forces:
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
Amplify the erratic winds and you might very well have your hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons.
It’s nothing new!
There’s a time for everything!
Then in Chapter 3, the most famous section of all pops up!
These couple of verses spawned the famous song by Pete Seeger, written in the 1950s and covered very successfully by the Byrds in 1965.
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
There’s not much I can do if this is my time for counting losses.
A word of caution here, Ecclesiastes is not easy to read.
It’s brutal in its almost Stoic honesty.
It minces no words.
In chapter 4 we see an unusually accurate representation of the tragedies and horrors we are confronted with in these trying times!
Next I turned my attention to all the outrageous violence that takes place on this planet—the tears of the victims, no one to comfort them; the iron grip of oppressors, no one to rescue the victims from them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead instead of the living who are still alive. But luckier than the dead or the living is the person who has never even been, who has never seen the bad business that takes place on this earth.
When I first started reading Ecclesiastes, I thought, “what a depressing affair.”
And in a sense it is!
It gives no answers, and doesn’t even profess to present any, at all!
And in chapter 8, it gets even worse, just when you thought there would be some semblance of some small tiny light, at the end of a very narrow tunnel!
No one can control the wind or lock it in a box.
No one has any say-so regarding the day of death.
No one can stop a battle in its tracks.
No one who does evil can be saved by evil.
All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that’s going on in this world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is.
I’m going to throw in a very quick disclaimer at this juncture.
What I’m writing is by no means an exhaustive exegesis of the book of Ecclesiastes.
There are excellent videos, books, and articles about a very complicated, yet very honest book.
These thoughts are mine, and occasionally I revisit them whenever the apparent chaos in the world overwhelms me.
As it does everyone at some point I would imagine!
This pandemic will pass.
To a lesser, or larger degree.
I don’t know when, and I certainly don’t want to venture a guess as to “when!”
But from what I hear it won’t ever disappear completely!
There will also be others, as there have been others before this one.
This is not the first plague to have wreaked havoc on our planet.
There is something to hold onto!
But in Ecclesiastes, there is some incredibly practical and positive advice, amidst all the fatalism!
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it
“Carpe Diem!” Seize life!
Yes, you know that one very well!
You probably first heard it in the movie “Dead Poet’s Society!”
It’s still true though.
Seize the day, yes, this day, and this moment!
These are the only moments you have.
These are the only moments I have.
Naturally, I have a personal way of dealing with these times.
I’ve embraced much of the wisdom in Ecclesiastes, simply because
it gives me a context within which I can move forward!
And it ties in perfectly with the Serenity Prayer we all know so well!
Written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971).
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
I can, however, change the way I perceive things!
I can’t change what’s happening out there.
I can, however, change the way I perceive things!
And make no mistake, I can encourage those within my small circle of family, friends.
We’ve done that since the start of the pandemic, and I’m sure we will continue!
I will also enjoy this moment.
I’m not going to have wine now, but a good strong Americano!
I’m not dressed festively, but I’m comfortably clothed in jeans and a T-Shirt.
And I’m in a position to share thoughts with people from all corners of the globe, thereby affirming my connection with the bond humanity still shares despite all the fear and uncertainty.
Stay safe, and as happy as you possibly can, within this moment, it will carry you through ensuing moments, and straight into tomorrow!