“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
Our gathering of the church at Jacob’s Well is currently working through the book of Job. It’s a fitting piece of literature to be neck deep within, in light of the Florida shootings and the aftermath of suffering, sorrow and denouncements. Unlike Job’s friends, we do not sit in silence in the face of horror and pain, we quickly jump to raging against one another, existence, God and our own vulnerability in it all.
I find that the words I am reading are a release for my own emotions, frustrations and perplexities, kind of like lancing a swollen, red to the touch, infected wound. To be honest, I can’t seem to find anger in the bottom of my emotional barrel, it seems it has also fallen victim to the tide of terror. In this moment, I have…
Turned away from people, because…
“…how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” -Job (21:34)
I turn to God but…
If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.
Would he vigorously oppose me with great power?
But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me.
Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,
by the thick darkness that covers my face.”
I turn to the sages of the past but…
“Oh, all that my pitiful earthly Euclidean mind can grasp is that suffering exists, that no one is to blame, that effect follows cause, simply and directly, that everything flows and finds its level –but, then this is only Euclidean nonsense. I know that and I refuse to live by it! What do I care that no one is to blame, that effect follows cause simply and directly and that I know it –I must have retribution or I shall destroy myself. And retribution not somewhere in the infinity of space and time, but here on earth, and so that I could see it myself. I was a believer, and I want to see for myself. And if I’m dead by that time, let them resurrect me, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely the reason for my suffering was not that I as well as my evil deeds and sufferings may serve as manure for some future harmony for someone else. I want to see with my own eyes the lion lie down with the lamb and the murdered man rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when everyone suddenly finds out what it has all been for.”
-The Brothers Karamazov by by Fyodor Dostoevsky:
Like a restless night of numbing insomnia, I keep turning over and over, praying for the night and it’s nightmares to end. I wake in hope, but sometimes it does feel like, a “fool’s Hope”.
“Gandalf put his hand on Pippin’s head. “There never was much hope,” he answered. “Just a fool’s hope, as I have been told.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King