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Content without the rattlesnakes

Published 9:01pm Saturday, August 17, 2013

During the past three months or so, my Sunday school class has been studying the book of Ecclesiastes, which I just heard a pastor this week call “King Solomon’s journal.” While it would be hard to describe the study as “uplifting” — Solomon starts things off by declaring that everything’s meaningless, after all — I have learned much about contentment, a concept that eluded Solomon for much of his life, despite his having just about everything the secular world could offer.

Contentment has sometimes been an elusive state of mind for me, which probably makes me similar to most folks in America, where we’re constantly bombarded with messages telling us we need more stuff, and we shouldn’t have to wait for it. Exotic vacations, fast cars and remote villas have all been the objects of my worldly longing in the past.

Solomon’s journal in Ecclesiastes exposes the folly of seeking contentment outside of God, but I suspect even Christians find themselves forgetting the lesson from time to time. I know that I still forget it occasionally, and sometimes over the silliest things.

There was a time, for example, when I was sinfully and embarrassingly jealous of my wife’s job. As an assistant to several departments on the administrative floor at Wanchese Fish Co. in North Suffolk, Annette surely does not have an easy job. But it is relatively predictable. She generally knows when she’ll be home, she rarely works on Saturdays and she’s never on call. Those workplace characteristics can seem very appealing on your third Saturday in a row producing Sunday’s newspaper.

But the thing I’ve coveted most about Annette’s job at Wanchese is the opportunity she has to sample some of the company’s delicious products, served hot and fresh, straight out of the test kitchen. In the interest of marital harmony, I finally had to tell her to stop texting me every time she had bacon-wrapped scallops as an afternoon snack.

For the most part, I’ve relied on God to give me strength to put aside my envy. But an encounter with a canebrake rattlesnake on Friday by one of Annette’s co-workers has removed the last vestiges of jealousy.

During one of her regular afternoon walks in Northgate Commerce Park, where Wanchese is located, Doreen Lamont came across a rattlesnake as large around as her bicep. She’d apparently passed it once without noticing it along the side of the road. When she saw it on the way back, she reacted in just the way you might expect — she screamed and ran. But she knew her co-workers wouldn’t believe her when she told them what she’d seen, so she walked back, snapped a photo with her phone and then skedaddled.

Lamont’s conclusion? Future workouts will be in the gym.

My conclusion? Things could be a lot worse. Maybe I don’t get bacon-wrapped scallops every week, but at least I don’t have to dodge rattlesnakes.

I think I can be content with that.

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