He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
The above verse is described by Solomon as a burden God has set on the human race. Strange, that having eternity in one's heart is a burden. This verse had come up a few times over the last week. Or maybe I'm just receptive to it with the mid-Christmas season upon us. I don't actually think that, but it sounded like a good way to work Christmas into this entry, though I don't think I'm going that route tonight.
It's been an off month for me. Not a bad one, there have been good, even great things in life laid at my feet so far. But I've been disconnected in a number of ways. I think I've mentioned that already. Maybe this will be a good way to reconnect with... something.
Been talking Ecclesiastes with couple of folks lately. This has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Probably because, for one thing, it's just such a different tone from the others surrounding it. Much lighter, philosophical. But it doesn't start out that way. If you read it purely at face value the opening chapters seem very saturnine, negative in their view of the meaning of life. But it's not. It's vastly clever how it works around to being the closest anyone's every managed to explain the meaning of life and keep it hopeful and encouraging. Makes me almost believe King Solomon really was the wisest man in history.
But I don't want to wax too long on the book. Just the line in the verse. What does it mean to have eternity in your soul? Well, overall, it would give you a hunger for something more, beyond your everyday world. Your toil, and all that. A hunger for God, for some power above your own, and an ability to understand the implications if such a God was focused back on you. It also is the reason for watching foreign movies, and feeling that craving to visit France, walk on its streets, or wander under the flowering branches in Savannah, Georgia or sip a Guinness in a pub in Ireland.
It's a craving for something more outside one's small circle of grass. That's not it, completely. It's an inner knowledge of something more outside, and a desire to explore, to reach into the hole and see what you find, or what bites you.
A friend of mine used this line when describing my daughter. She'd met her one night, had heard about her various adventures (most recent of which was a 2000 mile road trip with her cousin and friends to North Dakota to protest the pipeline) and told us the next day that she (my daughter) had eternity in her soul. She was searching for The More. Exploring the world outside her bubble and deciding for herself what it all means.
Everyone has eternity in their souls. Some people use its existence in different ways. As artists, we dive into it, build worlds, or perhaps just an expression of the bigger world we feel blossoming inside us, trying to get out. Paint. Chisel and stone. Words. Mostly, I use words, building worlds and the people residing within them to see what I find. The best creations are those that ring the most true to us as their creators. The best of those are formed when we share the act of creation with the very eternity we’re trying to uncover. I'll leave it at that. It's a loaded sentence.
The trick is to take a breath when we come to the surface, blink away the light that’s filled our eyes, and live in the real world, the small circle of grass that is ours and which we share with others. Spouse, family, kids, friends. We should be different each time we come up, when we return from our journeys into The More, but always, we should be better. Some crave only a return to eternity's depths, too weighed down by the burdens of normalcy. But, I think, that's not the purpose of these trips. Always, it is for the return. To bring back a piece of it with us, to share it.
What's inside us must come out, be it the light we're told to keep uncovered, the unique perspective formed from our explorations, perspectives which might enhance or alter another's thinking, or a bigger love for those we, at times, leave behind. A true love, agape, because we are contented, having dove into eternity in whatever way we tend towards, and cherishing the knowledge we will go back there again. And again. Nothing you discover, and no one you cherish, is ever a burden.