Satan’s second stroll through the throne room has tightened a slip knot around my mind these last weeks and I can’t seem to chew through the rope to turn the page.
He waltzes in, following along with the angels into a place he clearly doesn’t belong, but presents himself in front of the throne nonetheless. He and God replay the episode from the first chapter on TiVo. It’s nearly word for word.
From where have you come?
From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.
Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?
Of course Satan has considered Job. The last time we talked Satan had just dragged Job out back and beat the dickens out of him. Took everything he owned, everyone he loved but his wife and a few friends.
And now he’s back and God is holding Job up again as a shining example of everything that had gone right with His creation.
Satan carps and cajoles and cuts a deal to get himself another crack at this upright and blameless man against whom God had been incited without any reason.
And in my own warped version of the Pharisee shouting his prayer from the street corner for everyone to hear, I whisper to God that I’m glad I’m not like that guy. I’m glad I’m not Job. I’m glad I can’t claim to be blameless and upright. I’m happy now to be the misshapen mess of humanity that I am.
Because look what happens to folks who get it right all the time.
This air space just below the radar, I’m finding it more comfortable by the minute as I see Job scraping away festering flesh with a broken shard of clay.
And I’m now more content than ever with the thought of quietly living out my life in obscurity. David Whyte in The Soul Aroused makes me pause. He’s not talking about Job, no. But even so, I consider just how often it is I duck behind the curtain, seeking safety in the shadows rather than in the bright light of day.
Take any step toward our destiny through creative action (it may be as simple as lifting a pen over a blank sheet of paper), and we know intuitively that we are giving up whatever cover we had. Tiptoeing like the unwitting souls of a classical myth who blundered into Pan on the mountainside, we have ventured into the sacred temenos of our own desiring and startled a god. The universe turns toward us, realizing we are here, alive and about to make our mark. We hear the wild divine elements in the world hold their breath, waiting for our next move, our next word, but at last the center of real attention, we turn quietly and take a step back, into the shadow of the trees, and, it is hoped, a quieter life.
Having backed away from the moment, we try hard not to be found. We hope we can remain quiet and not be discovered. . . .
. . . for safety’s sake we may begin to develop an advanced form of stealth technology: we learn to lower our profile as we fly through the day to make sure no one can find us. (pp. 83-86)
Obscurity, this cloak I wear, I like to think it’s humility. But perhaps that’s just the thin inner layer, and what I must confess covers the bulky insulation of utter fear.
On a sort-of-related-to-obscurity note, the Rumors of Water book club continues at Tweetspeak Poetry today on the subject of publication — audience, connections, networking. Come on by and add your voice to the discussion.
I’m doing a rather irregular but ongoing series on Job. Find more here.
Job 2 & Luke 18, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Whyte, David. The heart aroused: Poetry and the preservation of the soul in corporate America. New York: Crown Business, 2002.