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Choose life

by davesandel on September 26th, 2022

Monday, September 26, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Choose life

Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair. He cast himself prostrate upon the ground and said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

In The Grace of Aging, Kathleen Dowling Singh simply says, “Everything of value that can be lost, will be lost.” Job lost all his livestock and herdsmen and shepherds. His camels were carried off and their caretakers were killed. Job’s sons and daughters were all killed in a great storm, and their home too was destroyed.

He did not lose the confidence of God.

Have you noticed my servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?

Job’s wife gave up. She told Job he should “curse God and die.” Job simply said to her, “I know that my redeemer liveth.”

In all this Job did not sin, nor did he speak disrespectfully of God.

How did this catastrophe affect Mr. Job? And was it so unusual? Richard Rohr does not think so:

Reality, fate, destiny, providence, and tragedy are slow but insistent teachers. The horizon of old age seems to be a plan that God has prepared as inevitable and part of the necessary school of life. What is gratuitously given is also gratuitously taken away, just as Job slowly came to accept. And we remember that his eventual pained response was “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Can I say those words with all my heart? What will get me there, what conditions might ripen me into this way of surrender and acceptance, this peace which ends in death?

If we are to speak of a spirituality of ripening, we need to recognize that it is always characterized by an increasing tolerance for ambiguity, a growing sense of subtlety, an ever-larger ability to include and allow, and a capacity to live with contradictions and even to love them! I cannot imagine any other way of coming to those broad horizons except through many trials, unsolvable paradoxes, and errors in trying to resolve them. In this way we are forced to learn, by necessity and under pressure, the open-ended way of allowing and the deep meaning that some call faith.

To live in trustful faith is to ripen; it is almost that simple.

But there is nothing automatic in the ripening. Even Solomon had trouble with this “open-ended way of allowing.” Deep into the center of his soul, the king ached with loss as death approached. “Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity!” He shouts into the wind.

Man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets. The silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken. The pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the broken pulley falls into the well. The dust returns to the earth at it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 11)

Solomon’s ripening was incomplete. For me too, in the second half of life either I will keep to my old way, or open wide to the new.

And God alone allows me to choose well.

(Proverbs 3, Psalm 15, Matthew 5, Luke 8)

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