Before it became a 1960's feel good pop song Ecclesiastes was a prophetic book in the
Hebrew Bible. It is the fundamental poem about death and life and what happens to us
during that process. During the past few months I have been thinking about the Hebrew Prophets quite allot. There is nothing better to read when you are depressed than Hosea or Job.
There is none of the Jesus Christ fluffery in the prophets. Pain happens, death happens but all is part of the justice of YHWH. Justice is what is sought and justice is what one gets. So as I move into a new phase in my life I have begun to think about justice and to leave mercy which so many prefer on the sidelines.
Recently I had a conversation with a young woman working two jobs, supporting her mother and siblings and also taking care of a friend and I thought to myself if this young woman is capable of that why do I complain about anything? Here is this tough, intelligent woman who is overcoming everything-- I think to myself "Ray you are a real wimp"
Poets are good complainers. We like to complain, write and then do nothing because it is in our nature. But if ever the old Socialist mantra Fight, Complain, Organize were true it would be now in our country but all we really do is complain and then go on Facebook. We like to spend our time arguing over dumb things.
I have begun a new job in Milwaukee and I find that while I miss my poet friends and my home, family and pets what I really miss are my volunteer activities. I was volunteering weekly at a Catholic Worker house in Chicago until a month ago teaching English to a group of immigrant women. I miss that interaction and I miss the fact that in these women's stories I learned much about what is real in our country. For all the pain that those women, homeless with children to feed had there was a joy and hope that those of us in better circumstances often forget.
What is real is something that has become preciously rare in a society where we text message our friends who are across the room. We have chosen to place an electronic wall around us and for all the good that those things do we also become desensitized. But what is actual is what matters and what is virtual does not really matter. You cannot power down an actual human being but you can do that to your iPod. In the end it goes back to a time to live and time to die and also a time to sew and a time to reap.
I also think about the fact that an email or a text message will not suffice. Imagine if Ecclesiastes has been written on an iPhone?