“What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
One of the best things about being a grownup is our agency in so many aspects of daily living. If we so choose, we can forgo flossing forever, eat a hot fudge sundae before our kale, or never eat kale at all.
But one of the hardest things about being a grownup is that our inherent grownup-ness often prevents us from eating dessert first. We are plagued by guilt that we are not eating well enough, parenting well enough, exercising enough, or doing a good enough job at work. I sometimes think my religious inheritance is not the expansive feasting of the good-time Jesus, but the golden calf of the cheerless Puritan work ethic.
And then, our family bought an inflatable hot tub. Though little more than a glorified kiddie pool with a heater and filter, it is a thing of extraordinary wonder. It beckons night and day. The Puritanical voice still tells me: you can relax in the hot tub after all the work is done. Trouble is: the work is never done.
The other morning I faced a 13-hour day at church. The kids were in school. I would not have to fight for leg room in the hot tub. And I broke character: I got in before doing a lick of work. There we were: me, the hummingbird that stopped by for a visit, the trees slow-clapping me for getting over my idolatrous work habits, and my God. My God.
God, weaken our resolve not to eat dessert first, climb in the hot tub before work, or otherwise receive with overwhelming gratitude the good gifts of this earthly life. Amen.