Friday, November 30, 2007

Two Houses

Probably the most unwelcome interruption in life is a funeral, hopefully not our own. This unscheduled event is not without benefits however. In fact, it always provides a much needed jolt in perspective. The world is quickly passing away along with all the things that so easily consume us. No wonder our lives are compared to withering grass and short lived vapors.

A funeral forces us to focus just for a moment on the eternal, before returning to fast-paced often temporal pursuits. The house of mourning has a way of readjusting our attitudes and priorities. Sobriety and reflection suddenly replace our eat-drink-and-be-merry mindset. We tend to walk away wiser.

Ecclesiastes contrasts two houses. Note the more profitable one. "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning: but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."

The advice of Solomon is to consider our behavior in light of life's brevity. "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Moses also reflected in Psalm 90, "Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom."

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