“What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose or the universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity’s great problem to which reason so far has no answer.”
– Sherlock Holmes in The Cardboard Box
I’ve been meaning to make a post about this quote for some time, but never, until now, have I felt just quite brave enough to give it a whirl.
Here, in this quote, Sherlock Holmes asks the question that every person in their right mind has been asking since the dawn of time, and will go on asking, no doubt, until the end of time – what is the meaning of this seemingly meaningless life?
The first time I read The Cardboard Box I was either 14 or 15, I am not quite sure. I remember clearly enough how very disturbed I was by the whole story. The story is a rather macabre one, really – the two severed ears of the victims being sent, by the murderer, to the woman he blames for causing the trouble that ended in the killing of his wife and her lover. And then the quote at the end, where Sherlock Holmes, one feels almost speaking directly from the mouth of his creator, questions the meaning of life. I remember I felt very gloomy after reading it, and endeavored, by trying not to think about it or watch or listen to any of its adaptations, to forget about the story entirely. But I found that was not possible. It seemed to me no matter where I went in the Sherlock Holmes’ fandom that quote was not far behind. I could not escape it, and I wondered why. Then it occurred to me – they all sympathized with it, with those ever nagging questions of “why are we here?” and “what is it all for?” But why didn’t I sympathize with it? Well, that caused me to think quite a bit. But then, after a time, I realized the answer had been right under my nose the entire time. Because I know the answer. But what was so special about me, that I knew the answer and no one else seemed to? Well, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing special about me. In fact it doesn’t have anything to do with me at all. It’s Jesus. It’s all Jesus. Jesus is the meaning of life. He is the reason we’re here. He is what it’s all for. To glorify Him, to worship Him, and to share the Good News of His salvation with all of humanity.
It says it in some pretty cool ways in several places in the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 it says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter (sounds pretty Sherlockian, doesn’t it?): Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Puts it pretty succinctly, doesn’t it? Another place is in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, where it says, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Here’s another one, Jesus actually said this one, in Luke 10:27. “And He answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And of course there are more and more I could go on with, but I don’t want to go on for too long.
So that is why when I read that quote now I feel like grabbing the person who posted it in a hug and saying, “But there is, there is, there is a meaning in life! And I can show it to you! If you only believe!” If you only believe, that’s all it takes. And you will be so amazingly blessed, and you’ll know, you’ll really know, the meaning to life. I know I do.