Thursday, March 5, 2009

Job's Problem

Job had a problem. He did everything right, and it came out all wrong. Not Fair! And from his day to ours that problem has bothered a lot of people. Especially those sorts of people who have imagined a kind, just, loving God. What kind of God could do all that nasty stuff to poor old Job? The clear answer is – Not a very nice one (God). Or perhaps there is no God? Or?

As long as the problem of Job is restricted to the theological world, it is surely an intellectual brain buster, but hardly of existential concern. But Job’s problem keeps showing up – often by another name: Suffering Innocents. Millions of people rendered homeless, helpless, murdered, maimed, and martyred. Man’s inhumanity to man is impressive – and if there is any moral quid pro quo, it is hard to see. Doubtless some of this suffering multitude did something that might have justified the violent retribution, but the scales of justice appear badly tilted, if not off the balance point. And if God is on their side, they might better be thinking about some new ally.

As nasty as human beings are to one another, and they can definitely be nasty – humans are mere pikers compared to Mother Nature. Any good plague, be that Bubonic, AIDS or Flu, cuts a swath through the human population that Man’s current efforts simply can’t match. Perhaps someday if too many people push the nuclear buttons, we might be in the running, but not yet.

If we shift our attention to what might be called "natural disasters," the scale of devastation becomes massive. A run of the mill tsunami will surely get your attention, but that is nothing compared to the handiwork of an aberrant asteroid.

Fortunately it doesn’t happen all that often, but some 65 million years ago such a cosmic wanderer dropped into what is now the Gulf of Mexico, creating a humongous hole and throwing an enormous amount of ash and stuff into the air, blocking light from the sun and effectively putting the Big Chill on the poor dinosaurs. Gone! Wiped off the face of the earth! I ask you, what did they ever do to deserve such a fate? And Job thought he had a problem!

The truth of the matter is that the Cosmos we live in is a bumpy place, and has been from the very beginning. It is not for nothing that the Grand Opening was called The Big Bang, and it has been rocking and rolling ever since. There is another truth: We are not the center of the cosmos. No matter how much we might hope or think otherwise – we are a very lately arrived side show to the central drama, whatever that might be. No doubt we have our opinions about how things ought to work, and should the Master of the Universe have consulted us early on we might have suggested some alternatives. But that did not happen. In one of the most marvelous lines from the Book of Job, the Lord lays it out. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" Answer: Not present.

A bumpy cosmos indeed, replete with massively destructive collisions, implosions and explosions -- all wrapped in the mystery of Dark Matter, Black Holes and Chaos. However, this same cosmos is equally replete with the crystalline beauty and silent majesty of sidereal order – galaxies spinning to their own deep rhythm in a dance of infinite grandeur mirrored and paralleled by the micro world of Neutrinos and Quarks. Or is it of Strings that vibrate and sing the song of the cosmic dance? Light and dark, order and chaos, creation and destruction – shifting and blending in the ongoing kaleidoscopic symphony of the universe. Truly a dance of cosmic proportions, and we are invited. But rarely do we call the tune or choose our partners. And there’s the rub.

To some it may seem that we are simply cast about like so much cosmic flotsam and jetsam – and on a day when the partner of the moment is dark chaos that is surely the experience. But partners change and the dance moves on – light creative order enters our experience. How wonderful it might be to hold that moment for ever. . .

The ecstasy is not in the moment,
But in its passage.

To hold the moment is to destroy it –
The ending of the dance.

I think we are all dancers who live fully when we dance. There is no abstract right, wrong or perfect way to dance, for each dance is perfectly what it is. It is not about "shoulds," "musts," or "oughts," but only the dance in this, and every, present moment. We are called to the dance and in the dance we experience ourselves as a loving whole – at one with ourselves and all that surrounds us.

Loving whole – or one might say, loving God.
Or even, God’s Love.

Then again we could just sit this one out.

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