(Word is a series of designs for books of the Bible. This is Ecclesiastes.Find out more about Word.)
If you are looking for a happy book to cheer you up on a bad day, make sure you skip Ecclesiastes. The book could be summed up by the word "meaningless" which it repeats 35 times through out its twelve chapters. It's dark, gloomy and pretty depressing. Kinda like a teenager... or Eeyore.
Your life is suckier than you think
Tradition has it that Ecclesiastes was written by an old man (some say King Solomon) who was looking back on the great achievements of his life. His conclusion is that all his great deeds and actions were worthless. He'll die and be forgotten. The good he's done will be undone by someone else. You're born, live a meaningless life, then you die. In his great wisdom, he makes the awesome decision to write down his depressing thoughts so they can be shared with everyone else. Pretty thoughtful, huh? Kinda like that person who eats something and is like "Oooo, this is gross! Try it!"
Past the Depression
Generally, I recommend bringing all your own personal prejudices into your Bible reading. Why bother trying to understand what someone else meant 2000 years ago when it's so easy to make my own judgements? Am I right or am I right? Well, I decided to break that rule this time and try to figure out where the author may have been coming from and whether he really was as depressed as I thought he was. In taking a step back out of my own judgements, I realized there's something kinda cool about this dude's thought process.
The dude who wrote Ecclesiastes was Jewish. Jewish people believed that our 60-70 years on earth was merely a tiny slice of our entire existence. That kinda reframes the whole book for me. Now I see this dude basically saying "Don't sweat this world. Whether you're rich or poor, smart or dumb, awesome or unawesome, this whole "life on earth" thing is a tiny piece of our existence. If you step back and think about eternity, it actually makes this time on earth seem pretty insignificant and meaningless. Be good, do your best and live life to the fullest, but just know that this is just a drop of water in the ocean of our existence."
Much less depressing.
Back to the Depression
For this week's design, I wanted to capture the initial darkness the book had to me. For those who, unlike the author of Ecclesiastes, believe that this life on earth is really all there is, this book is a big bucket full of depression.
Next week, it's time to get sassy with Song of Solomon.