1st of January 2023 has come. We’ve bid goodbye to 2022. It’s a new year.
How is it that I feel nothing has really changed, yet I also feel that 2022 has come and gone too quickly. Who is the person who determined that the 1st of January is a new year in the first place? Is it just an arbitrary date?
So I ask dependable Mr Google and Britannica. In summary, the 1st of January is the beginning of a new year according to a Gregorian calendar which was a modification of an earlier Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar. The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar that is determined by the Earth’s revolution around the sun.
Mr Google also states that the Earth is moving around the Sun at a speed of nearly 30 kilometres per second, or 67,000 miles per hour. The Earth itself rotates once every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.09053 seconds which means it moves at 1,000 miles per hour.
Based on these facts, I am a very insignificant speck on this Earth that is hurtling through this Cosmos at an incredible speed. What on earth am I doing here? What is the meaning of life?
I believe that everyone asks this question. We all know we are born and then at the end we die. So what? Is this all there is? Is it all really meaningless?
I turn to the Book of “meaninglessness,” Ecclesiastes. The Teacher writes, adopting a posture of cynicism, in Chap 1:1 -11:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
What does man gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises….
All things are wearisome, more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.”
What a depressing start to the year. Everything is meaningless, or so it seems… or is that wrong? Perhaps the Teacher is not the right person to ask the question about the meaning of life. Or perhaps we’re asking the wrong question?
Genesis tells us God created the heavens and the earth out of nothingness. He created Light, sky, seas, vegetation, the sun and the moon, living creatures and man. During the process of creation, He exclaimed, “It is good!” leading to the final crescendo of “It is very good!!”. It is NOT meaningless at all to God. In fact, it is the total opposite.
How is it that the Teacher only encountered meaninglessness whereas God only saw goodness and endless possibilities and opportunities?
I can only surmise that the Teacher was just looking at life from his point of view “What can I get out of this? What is in it for Me? How do I achieve maximum pleasure/worth for myself? What can I achieve for myself?”
Whereas God was looking at it through the eyes relationally in perfect unity within the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in every act of creation. “How can I show my love within the Trinity?”
And out of the Divine Love is birthed all of creation and on the 6th day, He created Man. In essence, we are birthed out of Love.
I juxtapose that the difference between the Teacher and God is that the Teacher was only looking out for Number 1 – himself.
In the Teacher’s thinking, the world revolves around the Teacher. Whereas the Godhead (within the Trinity) was constantly pouring in Love and pouring out Love; and busy creating and resting. In their action of creation, the Trinitarian God made the world and human beings. He gave us the greatest gift of all, the gift of life and the power to work, create, live, breathe and enjoy.
From these observations, perhaps we shouldn’t be trying to find meaning in life. Instead, we should make meaning in our lives through the eyes of love.
I imagine that this gift of life is like an interactive canvas on which we can draw and create things. However, this interactive canvas is bound by time, fraught with chance and limited by death. There are potholes of disaster (either sickness, suffering or manmade, natural or unnatural) and many things outside our control.
But within the empty spaces we are free to create and move about. Our actions may change the potholes, diminish their size, close or enlarge them. Our inactions merely leave an ugly blob, too many empty spaces on the canvas, enlarge or make more potholes.
We can make beautiful patterns out of this interactive canvas or we can make it ugly. This interactive canvas also interacts with other peoples’ canvases too. What we do affects them just as they affect us.
How do we make meaning out of this life? The Teacher’s conclusion gives powerful pointers in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Jesus sums it up perfectly in Matthew 22:36 – 40 when He says:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We can make meaning in this life by loving God and loving others and His creation. Loving others also entails allowing God to love you and for others to love you too.
May this year 2023 be a meaningful year for you.
 Why does the New Year start on 1st January? By Amy Tikkanen. Britannica
 A German Jesuit astronomer by the name of Christopher Clavius helped Pope Gregory XIII to recalculate and introduce the Gregorian calendar
 How fast is the Earth moving? By Rhett Herman, Scientific American
 The word “meaningless” is taken from the Hebrew word “hevel” which means smoke or vapour. In this book the teacher is not offering that our lives are meaningless, but that our lives are but a whisper of smoke, it is fleeting. Everything is meaningless – answer to Ecclesiastes . activate your life.org.uk