This flash fiction idea came to me during one of my pastor’s sermons on Ecclesiastes. Through personally studying Ecclesiastes, it is easy to want to rush and redeem the book through the lens of Christ – which, of course, is its ultimate purpose. I wanted to sit in the first few chapters for a while and picture what “vanity of vanities!” looked like.
Norma rocked in her grandmother’s chair, now a grandmother herself. She brushed the morning fog away from her liver-spotted face.
As steam rose up from her coffee mug – a lifelong Folger’s connoisseur – she considered her life.
Norma’s accomplishments were impressive. Along with her husband of sixty years, she raised a fine family of four kids, five grandkids, and a great-grandbaby on the way. She volunteered. She won a civic award. She recycled. She traveled to Europe. She wrote a book. She was on the evening news. She was respected. She was loved.
But there, in her grandmother’s rocker, applause sounded like the repetitive squeak of aged wood – back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
What had her grandmother accomplished? Norma couldn’t say.
It occurred to Norma that her own life had been meaningless.
“So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 2:20-23