“Woe is me,” says Job. In fact, throughout 42 chapters, except for 12 verses at the beginning of chapter 1 and 6 verses at the end of chapter 42, Job woes loudly to anyone who will listen, including God, who finally thunders back and essentially says, who are you, anyway, to whine so much.
A passage from Job was the first reading from the Sunday Lectionary this week; in the second reading, a passage from Mark, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. The readings from this time of year usually have to do with healings.
I’ve always liked the idea of Job even if 42 chapters of woe gets a little tedious. We’ve all taken turns of being Job, I expect, as we whine and complain why me, why isn’t my life moving forward, why does my boss treat me so badly, etc etc. We don’t often end up with our bodies covered in boils, as Job did, but sometimes it feels that way.
We’re two and a half weeks from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and the questions posed in this post-Lenten period deserve reflection: how do I heal? who am I and how do I fit into my environment? what am I supposed to be doing in my life? how do I live in order to have meaning in my life? how do I live the realities of pain and suffering?
I’d had two days of mental exhaustion and suffering by Sunday morning: the email address I consider my professional address and which has been with me through all of AT&Ts many changes from dial-up to dsl to absorbing sbcglobal to u-verse wireless disappeared. The loss occupied many hours and several technicians. By late Friday night, after being told twice that a tech person had come to the end of his/her second tier competence and couldn’t retrieve the address even though they could see it, and not only that but there was no one above them to refer to, I went to bed feeling dislocated–friends and colleagues across the various countries where I’d lived had that address. I was adrift with no electronic identity and no connection to web site/blog/ social media/or the world. A very odd feeling.
Thankfully, Saturday, after more calls and more tech people, I finally found a young man who considered his job an adventure and dug through the bowels of cyber language to pull the address forward again. I was once more connected. I was not alone. I was brought back into community and healed.
And of course, I wasn’t alone, ever, but helplessness in the face of trial often feels very alone. I could physically survive losing an email address, even an address that I’d had for some fifteen years, but still, the helplessness and loss felt real.
Life is about loss. Loss is the way of the world. Why me is a valid question but in truth, questions are not essential to living. The courage and faith to live a meaningful life is what’s essential, and “faith” whatever else it is, is an adventure.
What’s essential is the way we live with one another. Meaning comes through relationships and community. Not through stuff, we all know meaning doesn’t come through stuff, and yet that’s often what we accumulate. The people Jesus heals return to participation in a community: Peter’s mother-in-law gets up and serves food; the lepers return to the temple; the broken return to the family; the demons banished. How many demons are you carrying around in your head?
Perhaps this Lenten season, instead of “giving up” something that you will only take back, you might want to consider what you need to “give up” in order to heal. Anger? Judgment? Financial fears? Self-pity? Resentment?
What needs healing in your life?