By Connor Kenaston
I have passed many a day conversing
of the future, my plans, dreams, and hopes.
Schools, jobs, girls seem to be the only triangles
on my pinwheel of thoughts.
I find that a dog is a barking reminder
of simplicity and perspective. This afternoon
was perhaps my first true day of spring.
And glorious it was. Steadily Zoe and I
rambled along the road stopping only for
extra sniffs and to feel the massaging
rays tingle our backs down to the spine.
I wish I could seal up that moment of simple bliss
to bark at me whenever I go astray in my thoughts
and become enwrapped solely by my new to-do list.
That quiet twenty minutes
was chalk full of as much of my
as twenty minutes writing a paper,
getting coffee with someone, or working.
I don’t want to forget that. I don’t want
to leave in my future headphones
and forget to listen to the birds
chirping as spring whistles down the lane.
Though some readers may be depressed by Ecclesiastes due to the Teacher (Qoheleth)’s description of life as “perfectly pointless,” I find the book’s perspective both refreshing and liberating. It pushes back against an understanding of Christianity as a set of rules to deny oneself of joy and pleasure. To make a rough 21st century translation of this 2,500 year old book, the Teacher is essentially advocating for a Christian understanding of “YOLO.” The Teacher suggests you “remove anxiety from your heart” (Ecclesiastes 11:10, CEB) because we’re all going to die anyway. Rather than live a life of stress and worry, the Teacher instead advocates for a Christian understanding of a good life: a life of keeping God’s commandments, working hard, and remembering that God also desires us to find fulfillment in the cultivation of joy, companionship, and life outside of work.
“But when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had worked so hard to achieve, I realized that it was pointless—a chasing after wind. Nothing is to be gained under the sun.” - Ecclesiastes 2:11, CEB
This past year I’ve had the incredible opportunity to serve as an advocate for racial justice in Columbia and Ferguson, MO. I love my job—it’s been fun, stimulating, and I certainly feel God has called me to this work “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14b, NRSV). But I’ve also had to embrace that God has called me to more than just my vocation. For example, during my missionary service, God also called me to live in intentional community, to immerse myself in scripture, and to listen to the homeless persons at my church. Furthermore, for me personally, if I only think of God’s call on my life as solely vocational discernment, it would be easy to overestimate my own contributions, accidentally contributing to our society’s white savior narrative.
I now recognize that God’s call to be a better Christian each and every day should influence big decisions like job selection, but it should also affect simple decisions like choosing to recognize the beauty of creation while walking a dog. By remembering to value time outside of work, I remind myself of God’s breadth over all aspects of my life.
Reflection Question: How is God calling you in ways beyond vocation?