All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. Ecclesiastes 1, verse 8.
It’s never enough. Face it: it’s just never enough. No matter what ‘it’ is, it’s never enough. When I see something, I want more. When I want more of something, I think about it all the time. When I think about something all the time, I want to see it. Then when I see it, it’s never enough. Vicious cycle really.
And then there’s listening. Ever get a song stuck in your head and you just can’t get it out? Or maybe you hear a new song on the radio and you REALLY want to find out who recorded it, and you’re simply stuck on that song until you do. I’ll admit, too, that I’m one of those drivers who usually has the radio on. I will have the windows down and the radio on even louder (because the windows are down and it’s noisy). Sometimes I just like to drown out the thoughts in my head or let the sound of music couple with the sound of driving to drive out the important sounds that a better man would hear.
When I am alone in a hotel room, I usually turn on the TV just to have the background noise of someone there. There are some pictures I can look at over and over and seemingly not get enough of being amazed by thing; ones that specifically come to mind are videos of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, or maybe the Titanic deep underwater, or pictures of a newborn baby sleeping. I just can’t get enough of looking at those things. And yet, even when I stare for hours, or distract myself seemingly forever, it’s never enough.
Got skin? Got sin. Nuff said.
Own up to it but attribute it (in part) to the senses. They’re gifts from God that help us make our way in the world.
But they can be traps, too. They can lure us into thinking, contemplating, planning or doing things we might not otherwise have done. What’s more, even if we do finally get our fill of looking, hearing, tasting, smelling or touching something, it becomes tedious, wearisome like the verse says. Maybe it’s the obsession that took so much to ‘get it.’ Or maybe it’s the realization that, once we’ve achieved a goal it might not be cracked up to be all we thought it was.
Or maybe it’s the realization that, despite all our wanting, needing, obsessing, worrying and scheming/working to get what our senses tell us we want, we aren’t God. And because we aren’t God, being second best isn’t enough.
Yep, vicious cycle.
Surely God who is and has all things knew this when He inspired the thoughts into King Solomon. He knew that the eyes could never behold enough beauty to really satisfy, that the ears could never hear music as sweet as an angel’s song, that no smell could be so delectable as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, that no taste could be as satisfying as being fed by Him, and that no touch could electrify us as much as the touch from our someday-glorified bodies. God made our minds to conceive brilliant and truly inspired thoughts, but He understood how those things could obsess us, pushing him to the margins. God knew that everything in the human condition wasn’t Him, but that He was over everything in our condition. Perhaps He gave us this verse as a reminder that our senses will only be fulfilled when we use them to behold our Maker.
I’ve beheld the beauty of Austrian Alpine valleys, of blood-red volcanic sunsets over the North Pacific, of a blanket of stars unshielded by the distraction of coastal lights. My years have allowed me to stare into the beauty of the Grand Canyon and down valleys at Glacier; Texas sunsets, New England sunrises, and any time of the day in far northern Minnesota. Even better, I’ve been blessed to behold the beauty of my children being born, of telling people I love them before they died, and of feeling real forgiveness for real transgressions. At the end of all things, aside from that last one, those wonderful experiences are never enough. There is never enough time in the day to fill up my eyes or fill up my heart.
I’m just some average Dave from north Texas; I’m really nobody special, and I’m also really betting that you have stories of how you’ve beheld beauty on your own. Thanks to King Solomon’s words, I hope you can say with me that it’s all good but it’s almost never enough because of who we are and the condition we’re in. This side of heaven, I think that’s the best that can be expected.