Summer Stage #13, Saturday 20 August 2016–What’s new? Ask that question of the last 100 years and you could say: discovery of insulin (1922), television (1925), use of penicillin to treat infections (1942), desktop size personal computers (1974), and Pokémon (2016).
Ask the question of last week and you get: unusual weather patterns with severe flooding loss in Louisiana and elsewhere, fierce fires in California, second week of Olympic highs and lows, US political campaign mudding along, and on the bright side, a Monarch butterfly sticking its proboscis into our beebalm flowers.
The old man in Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9b). He makes the point that life is meaningless if unconnected to God and God’s word. He paints a pitiful picture of the transitory nature of human existence: “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (1:8-10), To our peril we forget the past. Old ways simply reappear in new guises. Round and round we go, the meaningfulness of life evading us.
What a sorry picture the Ecclesiastes teacher of wisdom paints. I need an antidote. A new word. Hope. A bright side. I find the new in music, such as the song by David Wright, “Go, my friends, in grace” (2004). He says, “Serve my friends, in love, your neighbors and your foes.” What an order. He goes on, “Where you serve, God is there, within this fallen world.” Also, this song by Colin Gibson (1996), “Nothing is lost on the breath of God.” He writes, “No feather too light, no hair too fine, no flower too brief in its glory. . . .” God breathes meaning into every last detail of creation. And this sentence from the chorus of “As rain from the clouds,” (1983) by Delores Dulner, “We bless you, best farmer, for hundredfold yield, for harvest of grace in our once barren soil.” Grace, now that’s a good word.
From these and related sources I gain a fresh sense of the newness constantly breaking into the entire scope of this world. The goodness and meaning of the kingdom of God is a reality right here and now, even as it is hope beyond the now. So, Ecclesiastes does not have the last word. For me, that’s good news, for today and for each new day.
The newness of the week comes back in scenes from walks, time with extended- and church-related family, reading, meals, and other aspects of ordinary life. On our walk this morning (Saturday) we came across a church called, “Rise Up and Walk church.” The sign noted times of services, a telephone number and the tag, “Come beloved.” Nice touch.
As of today, we’ve covered 802 miles on foot in 2016. Going one step at a time most of the time. Sometimes stopping to smell the roses. The sweet aroma of a rose is like a gulp of sunshine, new and renewing under the summer sun. Here’s the week in pictures:
This blue heron eyed us without turning its head
Rain, clear night, morning fog, all elemental wonders
Fine time with extended family