"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9
Is there a more depressing line in all of scripture? Is there a more discouraging feeling—that you're in a rut and can't get out, that your life has become a trap of your own making?
Yet how wonderful that this pessimistic perspective is part of our holy writ. How helpful it is to know that such feelings are, and always have been, a regular part of the human experience.
And what joy it is to prove them wrong.
I decided recently to see if I could become something new, or if I could at least see some old things with new eyes. And so I signed up for a community rowing club, where practices start at 5:30 a.m. Did I mention I'm not a morning person?
"I cannot cause light," Annie Dillard writes in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. "The most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam."
There is so much in our lives we can't control. But we can choose to put ourselves in the path of the light, even if that means getting up in the dark. We can decide to open ourselves to grace, which might require moving out of our comfort zones. We can ask God to heal us at the broken places, and then get with the program.
Rowing will not fix my life, but proving that I can do this hard thing has already renewed my hope. I'll never be a champion, but the gracious encouragement of other rowers helps me to see how God cheers my every step toward more selfless love. I can't imagine ever welcoming a 4:35 wake-up, but knowing that herons and eagles are gliding over the river helps get me out of bed.
Turns out there is something new under the sun. How will you put yourself in its path?
Light of Life and Love, you are always doing some awesome new thing. Since I am made in your image, remind me that I can do new things, too.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.