ERROL CASTENS: Are we chasing mirages?

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Ecclesiastes is sometimes hard to digest. Its second verse declares, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!,’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’”
Cheerful thought, eh? Almost makes it sound like we might as well pull the covers over our heads and stay in bed.
But something Pastor Curt said on Easter has had me thinking how a necessary thread of dissatisfaction runs through most of what we pursue.
First, some examples:
* The Easter egg hunt at our house last week was amazing, at least as much for its brevity as for its enthusiasm. After weeks of anticipation about how much fun they were going to have at Mrs. Sue’s house, 21 First Baptist 4-year-olds denuded the sprawling front yard of all 312 candy-filled eggs in less than five minutes, spent a few more minutes looking at the chickens, then turned their attention to the Happy Meals that awaited at their next stop.
* I started anticipating ripe tomatoes when the first tiny seeds germinated in January. Now that the weather is warm, I’m impatient to taste them, weeks before they’re ready. By October I’ll be thinking “Meh” and looking forward to winter.
* Democrats largely felt their dreams had been fulfilled with the election of Barack Obama. On a smaller scale, Mississippi Republicans were ecstatic at winning almost every statewide office and both chambers of the Legislature.
Probably every election – even every revolution – offers elation that dissolves amid the mechanics, and mess, of governing.
* First we want to go to kindergarten, then “big school,” then high school and all that’s supposed to include. Then we want to be a senior, and once in that status we can’t wait to graduate, then go to college, then graduate again. We find ourselves eager to get a real job, and then we think if we just get married, we’ll feel complete. Then we want to buy a house … to have kids … to get the last one out of diapers … to buy a nicer house … to advance at work … to get the kids grown and married … to increase our nest egg … to have grandchildren … to retire … to go on that dream vacation.
Each advance is pleasurable, but it’s always on the way to something else. It’s easy to reach latter years and ask, “Is this all there is?”
Education, work, recreation, marriage, raising children and providing for one’s old age are necessary, but Ecclesiastes declares them insufficient. Pastor Curt put it something like this: “At the end of our lives, everything we have pursued except Christ will prove to be a mirage.”
If one reads the Hebrew scriptures as a prelude to the New Testament, that’s pretty much what Ecclesiastes gets around to saying, too.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at errol.castens@journalinc.com.