gladness and joy

With the summer wedding season comes the perusal of wedding registries, gift selections and bridal showers. Within this familiar process, I often find my creative imagination aroused, leading to the development of a handcrafted gift. The creative piece may be based on the relationship I have with the couple or simply a desire to share a beloved phrase. One of my favorite sacred verses, that I’ve utilized on more than one occasion, is Ecclesiastes 9:7. For me, its exhortation of gladness and joy offers celebratory wisdom, a fitting gift for a young couple embarking on a new life together.

While the latter chapter of Ecclesiastes grew in significance for me, it was its third chapter and its well-known axiom, To every thing there is a season”, which first acquired prominence in my young adult life. Having returned to our family farm upon the death of my grandmother, I found myself standing in her silent home contrasting the present somber space with the former bustling household that yielded some of my fondest childhood memories. As I surveyed the cherished surroundings, my eyes came upon my grandmother’s bible where, amidst its well-worn pages, I found Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 bookmarked and underlined. Its discovery left me wondering how many times my grandmother had looked to these words for comfort and reassurance. A member of a farming family for her entire life, she had experienced many seasons, each bound within the cyclical, yet ever changing landscape of the natural world. There in that moment of reflection, I did not know that her home would one day become my home or that similar words would assist me as I negotiated future seasons of my own.

When I did return to the farm years later, buffeted by some of life’s experiences, I found myself reading, Harold Kushner’s, When All You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough: The Search for A Life that Matters. Finding myself at yet another crossroad, this book and its referencing of Ecclesiastes 9:7 became a source of welcomed wisdom; so much so, the verse became a permanent feature in my family’s kitchen, inscribed in paint above the doorway. Its message was one I viewed at the beginning of each day and at the conclusion of each night. When I left the farm to live elsewhere, I was saddened to leave this visual affirmation behind; however, one day 9:7 resurrected itself in the creation of a handcrafted wedding gift. It has maintained its favored position in my life ever since.

So many of the items we choose when furnishing our homes fall out of use, break, or simply go out of style, but simple wisdom remains timeless, appropriate for any generation, any season of life. While I’m not sure if or how my creations may benefit their intended recipients, I never hesitate in offering the ageless advice I discovered during one of life’s many transitions-- to be glad . . . to feel joy . . . for all the days of the fleeting life one is granted under the sun. Its message is so simple, yet at times, so easily lost amongst life’s daily demands. If I could only remember . . . .