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A Word from Mrs. Q | Inspirational | Katherine Meeks

Qohelet, the Hebrew name for the author of Ecclesiastes, describes himself as a man who has been there and done that, all sorts of things.  And for the most part, he takes a pessimistic view of human life.  It is perhaps the gloomiest book in the biblical canon.

As a late-in-life theology student who has spent many decades studying men – and women, I couldn’t help but wonder if Mrs. Q. shared his views and what she would say to all of this.  As we know, spouses often have very different outlooks.  I wanted to know what her view was.  I decided to ask her (in my head).  And here is what she said:       

“Yes, I read it or at least skimmed it. I didn’t have a lot of time.  I noticed one of his main themes seems to be ‘All is vanity. We can toil, and even enjoy it, but there is no gain.’  And so forth. He says he is in a position to know because he is a successful man. Yes, that’s true. He did manage to achieve a lot in his life:  high positions in both government and in the religious sphere, and even in business.  

I’d just like to make your readers aware of what I was doing while Mr. Q was studying to build up his sagacity and his successful careers.   

I was taking care of Mr. Q’s baby.  I was studying that baby.  I ‘listened’ to that baby because she needed someone to be attuned to her needs and emotions. I somehow felt that I was establishing in that child a secure attachment or bond which would serve her well the rest of her life in her relationships with other people. I think it allowed her to relate intimately to other human beings, and form her own family, and do the same for her own children. I did that for all of Mr. Q’s children. I don’t know, but I have an inkling that that kind of thing even goes down the generations – how long, we can’t even know.   

We had a lot of kids. And you know what, every single one of them was unique. Temperaments, personality, interests…even though they all had the same parents.  I couldn’t believe it.    Nothing new under the sun, give me a break.    

Then the endless meals and feasts, and the tasks I carried out which took hours and hours: the grinding, chopping, cutting, soaking, marinating, baking, basting and cooking, and much else, and then the serving. Not to mention the clean-up.  It was all devoured by the hungry horde of friends, family and business partners in less than an hour. To what end? Was it all hinnam and hebel (vanity and uselessness)? Well, not only did they enjoy the food – which I’m glad to see that Mr. Q mentions the importance of – but friendship and camaraderie was also built, which I noticed Mr. Q also says is important.  Well, I made it happen. Family relationships were strengthened. Friendships and partnerships were kindled, or rekindled and reinforced. What was built had a lasting effect on people’s lives, and I daresay, on future generations, because what has a lasting effect on our lives does tend to travel down the generations.

That reminds me of all the social engineering I pursued. I brought people together who I thought would benefit from knowing each other, who could be friends, business partners, even marriage partners.  If it hadn’t been for me, it wouldn’t have happened, or at least not in any convenient or foreseeable way. Just like I was attuned to my babies, I was attuned to the needs of other people – and I did my best to fill them when I could. I also listened – to my children, even when they took forever to get their story out – and to other people as well who needed a listener. When they left me, their burden was lightened, and they felt more themselves.  More integrated, I think.   Was this toil without a gain?

I’m thrilled to see, even though I never got around to writing great wisdom literature, that female sages have since begun to have their say. I’m going to leave it to one of them to have the last word.  George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans) says this of her full-natured main character Dorothea in Middlemarch, whose time and circumstances precluded her from doing the great good she felt called to do upon the earth.          

“Her full nature … spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth.  But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffuse:  for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” 

 Industry collapses or is taken over, empires die or are overrun, wisdom in the abstract is of little use – but the spiritual good you help sow – even in a single person – is forever.  

Anyway, that’s how I see it. My outlook on life? Yeah, life is tough. But I don’t know, also satisfying somehow. Can’t say I have a lot of complaints.  Maybe it’s just my nature.  I see things differently from Mr. Grumpy over there.”              

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