Monday, May 16, 2011

Worldly Wisdom?

I was struck this morning as I was doing the Daily Office with the juxtaposition of the Collect of the Day with the the reading assigned from Wisdom.   The collect says,

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people;
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who
calls us each by name, and follow where he leads...

With this was paired the reading from Wisdom in which we learn about those who don't know a force greater than themselves and have written off God and now we can do with it whatever pleases us...

For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

‘Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades....

‘Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,

and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.

To put this in more modern terms, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry, because tomorrow we're gonna be dead!"   It's also the philosophy of the corporate moguls who wish to consume everything in their path and leave nothing for the next generation. It's greed at its worst.

It's also a very fatalistic view of the world.  If I can't take the finer things in life with me to the grave then I might as well make the most of it while I'm here.  At one time, I had a similar thought.  But over time, my focus has shifted.   Things that I thought were important aren't so much any more.  Certainly that's true of my consumption of goods.  I don't have a compulsion to have "lotsa" stuff.  In fact, I am more compelled to find a way to get some of my stuff out of the house. 

I also don't live as though this is my last day on earth or in anticipation of my last days on earth.  Instead, I try to take each moment as its own.   And, if I'm in a space to do it, simply acknowledge what it is to be alive whether I'm in my office observing a client's change in the connective tissue at the touch of a hand, or watching the sun setting over the horizon as I'm driving to the grocery store.  I think of these moments as being ones in which "the good shepherd" is calling, and reminding me that I'm part of a larger plan and to enjoy it without feeling the need to devour it.  And while I don't know where we go when we die, my own instincts tell me it will be something where the desire to eat and drink my fill will be null and void.  To have done it to excess on earth just seems pointless.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.  And remember to thank your host for such a good time!


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