On the banks of Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau reflected, among other things, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” (Walden, p. 8). Certainly there are punctuations of joy, and he recognized this, but I can see why Thoreau would have felt that way when considering the sum of man’s existence. A biblical writer put it this way: “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?… The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:3, 9).
And yet, the writer of Ecclesiastes closed his book with a higher idea of man, and Mary Baker Eddy explained the passage like this: “This text in the book of Ecclesiastes conveys the Christian Science thought, especially when the word duty, which is not in the original, is omitted: ‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.’ In other words: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: love God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole of man in His image and likeness. Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340).
That’s quite a contrast, to go from Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation” to man (meaning each person) declared to be wholly spiritual, the actual image and representative of God, divine Love. Man, as God’s spiritual expression, always has place and purpose, and would never be consigned to simply grinding out existence in some sort of rat race, never be doomed to failing health, nor stuck with a recipe for failure. The man and woman of God’s creating naturally reflect the joy, strength, and consciousness of purpose that are the attributes of God.