snow, daffodils, and Job
When I returned to Vancouver, one of the first things I noticed on my way home from the airport was that there were daffodils blooming by the side of the road. I adore the spring, seeing all the new life pushing its way into the world, watching in awe as the blossoms rain down. Spring reminds me that life will continue, the sun will shine later and later, and that there is hope, even in the midst of the stresses of school and life and everything else.
And in my wisdom literature class tomorrow I'm presenting on the book of Job. A few weeks ago I was not feeling much affection or sympathy for Job. I thought he was whiny, I thought he was self-absorbed, I thought he should just "shut up and deal with it".
I feel a lot different about him now.
I read the first few chapters of Job while sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean when I was on Bowen Island last week, I read the rest from a warm chair in a meditation room gazing out on the same ocean. I have a lot of affection for Job. I have a deep appreciation for his voice as it speaks to the rest of the Biblical canon. I have a deep appreciation for his voice as one that can give voice to so many other voices.
This morning I had an experience of feeling like Job as I listened to someone talk about "the power of positive thinking" and how an attitude of gratitude can improve one's life. I couldn't help but think of Job, and think of all the other people who suffer in the world. I do believe that our thoughts carry power and influence, that's part of why I love to write, but I also believe that there are other things that influence our lives. I've been hearing a lot about the movie "The Secret" lately, one that apparently preaches that positive thinking will attract wealth and prosperity. I haven't seen it, and I'm incredibly skeptical of the idea, in fact, I'm rather Job-like about it. Set aside the framing narrative of Job and you have the story of all of our lives: disbelief that we actually experience suffering in spite of trying to live wisely.
Later on in the day today I spoke to a woman who had also heard the same thing I had that morning, and who was rather troubled. She has experienced huge trauma and suffering in her life recently, and was also skeptical about what she had heard. She was having a Job moment. I was able to share with her how I had felt about the experience, and both of us were able to reflect a bit on why it hadn't sat well with either of us.
Suffering isn't something we can justify and it isn't something we can avoid entirely. Suffering is a part of life here on this planet, a place we can't escape from, a place God has called "very good", a place where we all must work together to minimize suffering for all, not just for ourselves.
I think the daffodils can teach us about suffering. Who would have thought that mud could yield such beauty?
Today I planted some tomato seeds. I had told my roommate that I was feeling rather Job-like, and after we got through the planting, she asked if I still felt Job-like. I do, but maybe more like the post-theophany Job, the Job that has been reminded of the goodness of God's creation. I can't wait to see the tomato seeds sprout, and I can't wait to taste the sweet juiciness that will come with the summer.