The other morning I walked down to the beach to watch the sun rise. I took some photos, watched others coming to view the sunrise, but my priority was spending time with the Lord—remembering who He is and His faithfulness—as both Creator and Redeemer.
I like spending time at the beach swimming, walking, biking, or just watching the ocean, always have. Just last week I was out on the west coast in southern California, so I wanted to catch a sunset or two. I walked on the beach (brrr, the water is much colder in the Pacific than the Atlantic!), watched the surf and those surfing, and enjoyed the sunset. It was beautiful. I also watched another sunset at a small park overlooking the Pacific near where I stayed. It's a favorite spot.
Sunrises and sunsets, the daily cycles of life on this earth, tend to go unnoticed unless you stop to watch. You have to be there to see and appreciate them, otherwise it's just the normal cycle of darkness to light, back to darkness each day. As summer begins to fade into autumn, the sun is already in a lower apex on its daily cycle of sunrise, sunset, as the earth rotates around it. It's this change in the sun's trajectory which reminds me there's another season coming. I live in NE Florida now, and lived in the tropics for many years (temperature change isn't as noticeable as in some areas of the country), so I notice the sun sitting in the sky a little lower now.
Ecclesiastes is a book describing life's seasons and cycles. It seems pretty cynical at first glance—"Everything is pointless" [http://goo.gl/egH9E], but it's an ancient approach called a "foil." The idea is to set up the reader (or hearer) by getting them thinking in one direction, then laying out a simple truth to be focused on. In Ecclesiastes, this simple truth is woven in an out of other seemingly cynical observations on life—just like many people have nowadays, perhaps you—I've certainly taken a cynic's view at times.
The book focuses on the various cycles or seasons of life. There's a famous song taken from the third chapter, "Turn, Turn, Turn," sung by many people during the turbulent sixties. There's also a wonderful book that uses another verse in chapter 3 declaring how God sets eternity in the hearts of all mankind. [http://goo.gl/TCtvo]. Although the continuing tone of Solomon's writing is the pointlessness of the cycles of life, there are bits of wisdom inserted as counters, almost in relief for the drone of "vanity, vanity." Life can be like that. Some people love routine, others hate it. I imagine most of us fall somewhere inbetween.