An Aesop’s fable offers the story of a busy, industrious ant that works hard, lives with one eye to the future, seeks to be prepared for any eventuality, and a less-than-industrious grasshopper intent on fully enjoying the moment without much thought to anything beyond the current day.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the tale, you can guess the outcome, the moralism that encourages you to be like the ant.
But I say: Let’s hear it for the grasshopper! After all, it’s summertime, and there is biblical support to back up such surprising praise.
The ancient teacher who composed the scriptural book of Ecclesiastes looks back over a life well-lived and shares what has been learned. After he strove for riches, pleasure, success and even wisdom, he found them to be like chasing after wind, a vain striving that brings frustration more than fulfillment or meaning. So his advice given is simple and oft-repeated in his reflection (ex. Eccles. 8:15, 9:7-8):
“So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, drink and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun. Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white and do not let oil be lacking on your head.”
Surely he must be thinking about lazy barbecues at sun-drenched beaches, not forgetting plenty of sunscreen, chilled beer and white wine, and wearing white before Labor Day.
Well, soon enough, the lessons modeled by the ant will creep back into our consciousness to set the direction of our life — busy, focused and full of toil.
But for the time being, how wonderful it would be to be encouraged to step back and simply enjoy the life we’ve been privileged to receive as a gift from God. How refreshing to be reminded that we are not simply beasts of burden enslaved to days of toil, but we are human beings made for the enjoyment of all of God’s creation.
So, for now, kindly remember: The sun is out, the water is warm, the refreshments are on ice, and the smoke on the ol’ barbie is rising toward heaven as incense of praise.
Let’s hear it again for Mr. Grasshopper. Hooray for summer and God’s gracious, light-hearted generosity!Matters of Faith columnist Kim Latterell can be reached by email at creatorpastor@ comcast.net.