9 What gain has the worker from his toil?
10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Me: "Lizzie, when you work, you get paid; you don't have to pay to work at the farm. You make money if you work."
Josh: "I will drive the pig truck."
Out here on the farm, we can take this particular phenomenon for granted. In no other industry is generational transfer the norm; in no other business in this modern age in this nation do parents routinely "take their kids to work" and children "follow in their footsteps", learning at the knees of not just mom and dad, but grandma and grandpa, too.
Ahh. But this gradual learning curve is one of those passes not granted to in laws. As an import myself, I have often thought that marrying into a family farm must feel like being blindfolded and thrown into a trunk, only to be freed in a country where everyone speaks a different tongue that you don't understand.
This is what brings the Ecclesiastes passage to mind.
How else would I take pleasure in all my toil; how else would this "business..to be busy with.." be "beautiful in its time." There are disappointments and distress; there are sharp words and fatigue; but there are bonds strengthened under stress and relieved with laughter and the knowledge that tomorrow and tomorrow and the days after we will still work together.
There are the kids helping pick out pretty flowers (he knows what he likes!)...
At seed time there is no guarantee of successful harvest. We plant the flowers and hope for happy customers and repeat orders, for the winds to be gentle and the checks to clear. We hope to flourish;we want to grow. We pray with the Preacher of Ecclesiastes that, like Lizzie and Josh, we may appreciate God's gift to us all on the land :
12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man."