Last week's holiday never really stood a chance! Between the car being off the road getting a new water pump and the relentless phone calls from local press (who eventually quoted only one totally innocuous sentence from what I'd said!) I didn't get away until Wednesday afternoon and spent more time travelling than actually holidaying. Ah well.
I did manage to read a couple of novels though: The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. The former at 500 pages is probably not meant to be read in one day whilst waiting for your car to be fixed, because if you do, you spot the holes in the logic and the ending becomes predictable; but it was an interesting take on the age old conundrum of the impact on history of being able to travel backward or forward in time. The latter was a quick read but with some hidden depths, the idea being that once you die you encounter five people who help you understand how your own life influenced and was influenced by those of others and to uncover the answers to some big questions you may never have asked.
What struck me overall was the sense that both of these novels were trying to make some kind of sense of life, of suffering, of pain and of 'why am I here?' in a world where the age-old faith-based answers have been lost or usurped. The need for an individual's life to count, to matter in the 'grand scheme of things,' to make some kind of sense and even for everything eventually to come good, these questions are no less real than they ever have been, and without the framework of organsied religion, I guess people need to find their own ways of exploring them.
Looking around other Blogs, it seems that there is currently a fair bit of interest in preaching on Ecclesiastes, with its Eeeyore-a-like writer who poses and explores questions on the meaning of life. Maybe there is a hint of resonance, or maybe I just notice it because recently I've had passages Ecclesiastes requested for a funeral (a couple of months back) and a wedding (taking place next week!), plus a lot of what's been going on around here recently inevitably provokes questions of this type. Either that or maybe I just need another holiday to get over the last one with nothing more significant to 'read' than a book of Su Doku puzzles.