What does anyone gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Eccl. 1:3
Lucy, sick and feverish for days, coughs so violently that she vomits on the floor. Jack complains (again) about dinner. I choke back frustration, massaging my temples, sure that his constant high pitched whining has drilled a permanent hole in my brain. Scott, home for two fleeting days before a plane whisks him away again, spends the evening on a conference call between cleaning up Lucy’s upchucked dinner and parenting Jack through the whine-vortex. My shoulders slump. I sweep up crumbs I swept yesterday and the day before. I wipe the counters, load the dishwasher, soothe my daughter as she cries over the mess she made. She tries to wipe it up herself with a piece of toilet paper because the family rule is “we do not make messes for other people to clean up.” My eyes fill with tears at the sad sweetness of her vomit-slimed hands trying to obey a rule that does not apply to sick little ones. How would she know that?
I type the paragraph above as I sip a steaming mug of tea, relief in sight. I have been looking forward to this moment all day. I hear Jack coughing, coughing, coughing. Jack? I check on him, find him crying at the top of the stairs. “Mommy, I threw up on my bed.” Guilt sours my stomach. Tears fill my eyes (again). I hold him as Scott cleans up. I pray over him, rub oil on his chest, tell him to run to me if he feels sick again. I come downstairs to lukewarm tea.
I am bone weary.
when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Eccl 2:11.
I survey my clean house and my sleeping children, my husband emptying his black hole inbox as he carries what feels like an endless series of heavy burdens, and I am terrified. Steve Jobs died today. It hits me like a punch in the gut. A man who changed the world leaves it without long enough to soak in his legacy. A chasing after the wind.
The gusts of the empty day leave me breathless.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the desert.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Nothing is wasted. All is grace. This is an opportunity to believe, to cling, to that.