|The stump sculpture in its youth|
As a result of recently walking to the deteriorating stump-sculpture (also known in our family as the "Jay tree") near downtown Bothell, I revisited one of my favorite, and (in my opinion) profound passages from Hebrew Scriptures.
I fell in love with the Book of Ecclesiastes when I took a summer graduate class in Wisdom Literature at Marquette University in the late 1970s. The old professor (he was pushing seventy) took great pains explaining the metaphors of Qoheleth's poetry to his students. (In my late thirties, I was the oldest in the class.) We learned that almond trees become white when they blossom, grinding women represent the attrition of our teeth with age, lattices refer to cataracts, etc. Each line has metaphorical meaning that now I don't need to have anyone explain.
As a person in my late seventies, I more fully appreciate the professor's passionate approach to this particular section. I also realize how timeless it is, as so many of my peer group enjoy reminding anyone who'll listen how they "find no pleasure" in their myriad exposure to life's current culture and experiences. This translation is by R.B.Y. Scott and published by Doubleday & Company in 1965.
Ecclesiastes XII 1-8
 In the days of your youth, remember your grave,
|We loved it when|
Jay posed for photos by it--
similar eyes and mustache!
When days of trouble have not come yet,
Nor have the years approached when you will say,
"I find no pleasure in them";
 Before the sunshine turns to darkness,
The light fails from moon and stars
And the clouds return, bringing rains.
 When that day comes, the palace guardians will tremble
And the powerful men will stoop,
The grinding women will case work because they are few,
And they will find it dark who look out from the lattices.
 The doors to the street will be shut
As the sound of the mill becomes low,
The voice of the birds will be silenced,
And all who sing songs will be hushed.
 Then will men grow afraid of a height,
And terrors will lurk on the road;
The almond tree will blossom, the locust be weighted down,
And the caper berry be impotent.
For a man is on the way to his long-lasting home
And the mourners gather in the street, [waiting]--
 Until the silver cord be cut, and the golden bowl be broken,
The pitcher shattered at the spring
And the water wheel broken at the cistern.
 So dust will return to the earth where it was before,
And the breath of life will return to God who gave it.
 Breath of a breath! says Qoheleth--All is a breath!
|Today the sculpture is clearly in the throes|
of returning to earth. It is still magnificent.