I love to read pretty much anything other than romance novels (I’m still scarred from having to take care of the romance novels section of a bookstore that I worked at in college). I don’t know how much I read in a day, but its a lot. Part of it is that I am a really fast reader – something I am grateful that I inherited from family members. As I moved into reading Ecclesiastes this weekend, I was a bit dismayed to read the following in Eccl 6:11…
The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?
This comes at the end of a lot of other “more” comments in Ecclesiastes – the meaninglessness of more possessions, more wealth, more more more. There is much truth for us in the words from Ecclesiastes especially as I live in (and participate in, I’m not immune) a society built upon the idea of accumulation.
About a year ago, I looked at the many bookshelves in my office (one of the things I love about my office) and realized that virtually all of them were filled with books, many of which I hadn’t touched in years. It looked good. It looked impressive. But there was a meaninglessness to it – a meaninglessness of having so many words and ideas surrounding me whenever I was in my office but the books were never cracked open. I had also moved to a place in my life where I was more focused on less words – photography, symbols, and poetry – and the many tomes that covered my walls spoke something else.
So, I gave away and sold at least half of the books that had filled my shelves. There was something incredibly freeing about it – there was suddenly space for my walls to breathe. I was able to have places to put pictures that I had taken, to put up symbols of my life and my ministry, and to be able to represent more of who I am at this point in my life.
We are surrounded by so many words in our lives beyond just the books that we read – the countless stories (and blog posts like this one) that fill magazines, websites, newspapers, and so forth that its hard to get past the thousands we see every day. But the writer of Ecclesiastes speaks to getting past the extraneous and meaninglessness to get to the central and the vital.