Notes from Jan

A Few Random Thoughts

May 9, 2022

Actually, it’s my Sunday School class on Ecclesiastes that spurs me to look at life. Mine, not just the life of the Teacher who wrote this puzzling book. For example, how many times can you read that something they did or you’re doing is “meaningless” or “futile” without wondering,” Hmm, is this about me?”


In my last post, I referred to the admonition to speak (or write) fewer words since the more words, the less they mean.(Eccle 6:11) Maybe that’s why I paid closer attention to something Dean Robert, in Morning Prayers from Canterbury Cathedral quoted a few days ago. “Be silent about great things. Let them grow inside you. Never discuss them. Discussion is so limiting and distracting. It makes things grow smaller. You think you swallow things when they ought to swallow you. Before all greatness be silent: in art, in music, in religion. Be silent.” (Friedrich Von Hugel from Letters to a Niece)


Actually, I thought this verse connected well to Mother’s Day. “But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind.(Eccle 2:11a, NLT) Like, didn’t I just do the laundry?”(I don’t think my children read this blog, but just in case, this is not about you. Really.) For sure, one needs a long view on parenting or gardening. There are seasons that can’t be rushed.

But then the writer urges, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” (Eccle, 9:10,NRSV) Well, Sheol isn’t hell, it’s the grave. But when I first read, “To which you are going” it raised more than my eyebrows of which I have few. Then I remembered something Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”


Sometimes this writer leaves little to ponder. “And when your teeth are gone, keep your lips tightly closed when you eat!”(Eccle 12:4a, NLT) Like I wrote last time, some things leave no room for argument.

I can hardly wait for class next Sunday. Meanwhile whatever you’re going through, keep on going. And listen for the laughter. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure it’s God’s.

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  • Reply Dan Russ May 9, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    I know that nothing is new under the sun, Jan, but you sure do freshen it up!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 10, 2022 at 9:53 am

      Thanks, Dan. Always good to see your name show up. Hope you and Kathy are thriving in Colorado with teeth fit for enjoying corn on the cob.

  • Reply Radina Welton May 10, 2022 at 7:11 am

    I needed this humoring today. Thank you, Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 10, 2022 at 9:55 am

      You are so welcome, dear Radina. Hope you’re back in Vermont with stories to tell from your travels. We all need laughter to lighten the load and give perspective.

  • Reply George Richardson May 10, 2022 at 8:09 am

    Even with all it’s gloom and doom Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite OT books. Chapter 4, verses 9-12 are favorites of Linda and me. We plod on!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 10, 2022 at 10:07 am

      What a shock to see your name appear, George! As for the verses you and Linda have chosen to focus on in Ecclesiastes, they’re packed with hope. You know well, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.”(Eccle 4:9,NLT) Just writing that makes me miss Jud extra much. And seeing your name reminded me how much Jud enjoyed his years with you on the board of Denver Seminary. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester May 11, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    Jan, have you heard of the book about Ecclesiastes called Living Life DRAWKCAB (Backward – my coment; not part of the book’s title) by David Gibson. My pastor is preaching on Ecclesiastes now and he highly recommended the book so we bought it and are reading it. You might enjoy it.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2022 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks, Carolyn. I’m always interested in book ideas. And I love being encouraged to keep learning….and hopefully growing.

  • Reply Wendy June 26, 2022 at 11:00 am

    I’m so thankful for the joy and laughter you bring to my life Jan!!

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