Growing up our constant companion was our faithful kelpie, Prince. Later came Tuppence, the kitten. Loved chasing and catching a ball of wool across the carpet. Prince looked on, indulgently. Then it was Autumn in the backyard, the brilliant morning sun shining through the leaves on the old oak tree. Leaves began to fall. Tuppence chased and chased the brown leaves as the wind picked them up, and caught some. Till there were just too many. Tuppence was frantic as the leaves sailed away. Prince, on his day bed, watched this scene for a while, then yawned and took a nap. With canine wisdom of experience, Prince knew Tuppence was chasing the wind.
The philosopher of Ecclesiastes, rather pessimistically, saw life as sometimes like that. The wind blows north, the wind blows south, round and round and back again. Even the king can only do what previous kings have done. In the end, a successful man hands his wealth to someone who has not earned it. The wise and foolish end up the same way. No one remembers them. So life, according to the Philosopher’s experience, is all useless. “It is like chasing the wind.” The pressures of modern life, business stress, the pursuit of the dollar, sometimes cause us to stop and think. Is this all life means? Round and round we go and back again. And supposing we do get to the top, what then? Have we been merely chasing the wind? Jesus taught a different approach to life. “The Kingdom of God is within you”. Too profound?
To me, something of that means discovering who we are, and what we are meant to be and do, with our lives. Vocation. That was humbling. At one time I fancied being a famous cricketer or footballer. Very average at sport! Could I be a surgeon, an engineer, or an architect? School results finished that dream. And then I discovered the humanities, history and literature. Here were stories of real people, who struggled, sometimes failed, yet made something of life. It was a learning experience. I understood my journey in others, their struggles. How could I translate this into something worthwhile? To use what I had learned meaningfully with the talents I had been given. I became a teacher. A very great privilege to have in your care young lives who struggled with many of the experiences I had. And to have time to listen and share in their development.
In teaching his disciples about life’s vocation, Jesus said, “Seek you first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will take care of themselves.” How tempting it is to try to be more than we are meant to be. To be lured by things of power, wealth and influence, beyond our reach. The cause of anxieties affecting our lives and others. It is all a question of priorities. With the courage, to accept and be, who we are meant to be.
And even if we get to the summit, like the king, and the successful man, what then? There is a price to pay when we waste life in chasing the wind.