Yet to Come
From Ecclesiastes 1
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). I mean, I get it. I think he wrote these words after trying to take two dogs and a four-year-old for a “fun” family outing to the drive-in.
I had the best of intentions—our first outing as a family of four. Liv gets excited about anything we do with the dogs, so when I mentioned watching an outdoor movie, eating popcorn, and taking the dogs, there was no going back. Whether I had second thoughts or not (I did—as soon as I realized the first movie doesn’t begin until 8:45), we were committed.
The first fifteen minutes of the trip—well, I’ll give it thirty—were what I’d imagined. Liv smiling and laughing in the back seat, anticipating all the fun. Bella sitting calmly and somewhat quietly in her lap. Ridley tickling Olivia’s ear with an occasional sniff over the seat.
Then we pull into the ticketing line.
Suddenly, dogs are everywhere—everywhere but where I’d put them and asked (ordered) them to stay. By the time I park, Ridley is barking, both dogs are scrambling to get out, and Olivia is crying. In this midst of this, a man walks over and says, “Ma’am, if you're here for Toy Story, you need to park on the other side.” Riiiiight. I knew it was too good to be true that our lot is the one with a convenient number of open spots. Instead, we drive to the other side, where there are so many vehicles they’ve hired a man to direct traffic.
We find a spot, thank goodness. But I don’t think to check whether we can actually see anything from it. Turns out, we can’t. Unless you don’t mind watching a movie on about a third of the screen.
Next hurdle: going to get popcorn. I give Ridley about a three-foot leash, but even that proves to be too much. He pulls everywhere, and I have to leave my place in line to return him to the car (don't worry—AC was running). When I get back, I realize I’ve left my headlights on, and they’ve been shining in the eyes of the people parked behind us for the past ten minutes.
I think we are that family—people see us pulling up and pray we will just keep driving.
We end up watching the movie unlike I had planned. Rather than cuddling up in the comfy tailgate I had stashed with blankets and pillows, we sit on a blanket in the wet grass. That gave us a little better vantage point—we could see two-thirds of the screen at least. Thankfully, Liv had already seen the movie, so she wasn’t fazed. And at this point, I frankly didn’t care.
Vanity of vanities. This is how I felt, as I tried to watch the movie while also watching Bella (she ran off three times) and, every couple minutes, untangling myself from Ridley’s leash.
After the first movie ended, the vehicles in front of us left, and we were finally able to cuddle in the tailgate like I had imagined. With blankets on top of us, one dog resting quietly on my lap and the other on Olivia’s, I took her hand in mine and asked, “Has this been fun for you baby?”
“Yeah, this is fun.”
We laid like this, holding hands, for about ten minutes before she fell asleep.
Vanity of vanities? Maybe. Maybe our best-laid plans seem to lead only to chaos and crazy. Maybe we’re ready to quit. Or say no before we even get started. But I have to say, despite the fiasco that night became for the better part of three hours, I wouldn’t trade anything for those final ten minutes.
So maybe our “vanity of vanities” moments are only that—passing moments. It’s not that all is lost. It’s that our moment of grace has yet to come.
Next week‘s reading: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17–5:1-7.