I wrote this at the vigil, between the stations of the cross and the end of the open mic time, and finished the second draft it in time to read it aloud. I had waffled on posting it, especially since it's very Saturday, and we're all into Sunday now. I considered writing a Sunday piece to companion it, but that felt like I was betraying its truth. But Tony Jones posted today about a musician named David Bazan, and the song that David is singing in this video has some parallels, and I dig global synergy of artistic statement, so I thought I'd go ahead and revise my piece and add my voice to the conversation.
( Holy Saturday Vigil, 2010)
I've never bought the end of Job,
wrapped up in sackcloth
lying in dust,
and you show, whirlwind or no,
all haughty and proud, after all that time,
like this guy's the one
who's got something to answer for,
like he was the one done the betraying,
and you're casting another stone:
brace yourself, bucko,
answer me like you're a man
like you haven't been being a father,
where were you when pressure and heat
made physics break down,
like you're breaking down now,
femto and femto, and everything BANG,
or when I separated waters from waters?,
like you're separated from daughters and sons.
Do you know what it's like to swim the Mariana trench,
the pressure would pop you like a ripe boil,
or lay down Armstrong's steps for him,
traced out in fine white dust like this ash?
I see why you needed Jesus,
if he'd shown up like that,
we'd've killed him sooner.
And since Job never answered,
awed by questions and presence, they say,
but maybe more broken by oozing sores on his back,
and a wife laying down track for his suicide,
in the wake of crushed, rotting loves,
I'll speak for the downtrodden,
for those with no voice.
Who is this that obscures your counsel without knowledge?
It's all of us. We only know what you've given.
Brace yourself like a God,
and I will question.
Where were you when Uday beat those men's feet,
for losing a match?
And where were you when the men's souls had died already,
so it was nothing to push another hundred into the showers,
living gas, not water?
And do you know what it is like
when soldiers sent kill themselves because
protecting their loves from babbling beards in towels,
fresh from a life of dollars a day,
doesn't protect them from having their hearts scraped out
by their own automated trigger pulls?
And when the girls won't eat,
because daddy's leaving,
he's found a weekend girl,
easy to play like a Final Fantasy,
and mommy's already surfing for
the eharmony of a fill-in-the-blank replacement,
were you there?
What good is good news to the dead?
Surely, I speak of things I don't know about?
Surely, these are things too wonderful to know?
Right? Your ways are not our ways?
Maybe. But they're the ways you laid
on your foundation.
So, what was the deal?
You had to win a bet against an accuser?
It was because you had to be right when he was wrong?
Is that it? Is that what all of this is,
just a cosmic game of backgammon,
where at the end, after chastising them
for laying on the board,
finger picked and hand placed,
you're just going to cast
white stones and black stones
together into the sea?
Or, do the white ones get to file home
on the soul merit of skin's tone?
How about this:
were you there when they hammered railroad spikes
through a god-forsaken man's arms,
like they were blood draining a hog on a tree?
Because, you were supposed to be.
That's supposed to be you,
stepping into the way of suffering,
like cheeks we're told to turn.
And if it's not,
if, like with Job,
pain you inflict,
is pain you deflect,
darkness is our only God.