This is what we’re told in Ecclesiastes.
I’ve pondered this in my heart many times.
I have seen the end of life, held the hand of my sweet mother as she passed from this life into the next. I’ve watched people leave the only vessel they’ve ever known, and I have searched to find some good in it. I’ve tried to comprehend beyond the veil, the deeper mystery at work in the sting of death. And then I’ve tried reconciling it with the fact that the man the bible deems the wisest in all the world tells us that the end of something is better than its beginning.
Humbly, I’m not fully convinced yet. It takes faith for me to believe. However, the very same verse in Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
So, I’m reminded that patience and faith will most likely answer all my questions in the long run.
2016 struck me rather hard. It was the year we lost Leon Russell, Glenn Frey, Prince, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, and even sweet Princess Leia: Carrie Fisher. These were followed swiftly by Tom Petty in 2017.
It was as if my childhood and teen adolescent heroes were being wiped off the Earth. I took so much comfort from these artists and their bodies of work. They brought comfort in the lonely times, pointed me toward the deep truths and challenged me to be better in my craft and gave me lofty goals to reach for.
But in one year, life proved how human they all were. Even now in 2022, we see the end of Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Ronnie Spector, Irene Cara, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, young Aaron Carter, Coolio, Naomi Judd…
The list goes on, and it will continue to go on until it swallows up us all.
Is it good to be so aware of our own destiny?
It’s not something I focus on all the time but it’s not something that eludes me for very long either. I often find myself saying these words out loud, to put life in perspective. Perhaps you will say them with me too, out loud, right now.
“We are only here for a little while.”
Do you feel the inescapable truth resonate in that sentence?
And long before it became a TikTok meme background sound, I would hear Ian McKellen’s voice speaking as Gandalf’s from The Lord of the Rings movie…
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What a conundrous statement!
There’s such freedom and responsibility in that sentiment, is there not?!
We don’t know the amount of time we have on this Earth but we do know we are here now. We are conscious and we are breathing. We have natural gifts, like communicating and expressing love that are both powerful and needed.
Some people will chase after money and fame with their time, only to find neither one satisfies. Some people will invest their time into helping others, into improving themselves and strive to go against the selfish grain of human nature.
And because I often think in musical terms my mind wanders back to a 1985 INXS album Listen Like Thieves with an obscure song that was never going to be a hit single, called “Same Direction”. (Never meant to be a single, because the lyrics don’t even start for a whole minute)
“There are few of us
Who will ever know
We’re counting our every day
And we all just need the same things
I tell you what I know
We’re heading in the same direction
So never let it go”
I know I’m counting our days. My mind can’t escape it. This road can lead to wisdom. But we’re also told in the Book of Ecclesiastes (1:17-18) that with much wisdom comes much sorrow, and he that increases wisdom increases sorrow. And some days it leads to melancholy.
Because you begin to see the world for what it is, a fleeting thing. Inconstant. Ever-changing. Always in motion. Destined to leave you and everyone else behind.
This is where it comes to a point.
If we are all just a breath, a mist, a vapor, then what is the point of life?
Every person must find that out for themselves, I will share with you what I have learned through time, troubles, toil, failures, searching, asking, seeking, knocking.
I believe in logic and reason. I also believe in magic and the unseen. I believe there is an ever- present, all-knowing, devotedly kind intellect in charge of why this human experience is happening to us all.
As if these paths were already mapped out for us, so it must happen this way. From our point of view, it feels like free will, to someone with a grander scope, they might say predestination. Both are true, from a certain point of view*. (*Gratuitous Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars reference for nerds like me)
I choose to call that being God, and in a form that I’m more likely to understand him, Jesus, and in an even more simple form that is often ill-defined, misunderstood and misrepresented, Love.
So while I’m here, I will look to the selfless 1st Corinthians 13 definition of Love and I will challenge myself to Love others the same way I am Loved by that Creator. And when I fail, I will own up to it, I will apologize, and I will do better.
Is the end of something better than its beginning? Do we really know when the end is? I will probably leave you with more questions than answers. But that is the beauty of our intellect and how we are made in the image of the One who has all the answers. God made us curious for a purpose. His Purpose.
Maybe the challenge for all of us is to strive to make the End of something better than It’s Beginning.
Thanks for letting me come into your lives like this. Thanks for reading.
See you around the bend,
my Huckleberry friend.