Job

A number of people asked for the words that were used in this space at the nosh. They really only make sense when placed alongside Ben Shahn’s image “Identity”, which is part of the Seasons of the Spirit set of posters for this current season. I can’t find an image on the web, so the one below is taken with my phone, which will give an idea of what the picture is.

identity1.jpg

I used the colour photocopier at work, made lots of enlargements of different parts of the poster and ripped them them out (I have no photos of this – Sarah has one on her blog, but if anyone has more, send them to me…), and then laid them all out on black fabric on the floor.

At the entrance to the space I placed the Job reading which was in the lectionary last week – Job 2:1-10 – which i’d handwritten with white pen onto black card. There was a length of black fabric that connected that to the rest of the space, where i added the verses that come follow, where Job’s friends come and rant and wail and despair on his behalf, and then sit in silence with him because there are no words to say. these verses take my breath away every time i read them.
The ripped pieces of paper were laid out on black fabric so that they mirrored the poster, but on much larger scale – arms at the bottom, clenched hands in the middle, writing at the top. It created this kind of big, raw, fragmented representation of the poster. The following stations were placed on top (all of the reflections were written with white pen on black card):

On top of the ‘arms’ – a large bowl of water and the following words:

If I have rushed in and lit candles of hope
to drown out the silence of despair
forgive me

if I have averted my eyes from another’s grief
(for fear it might be a mirror to my own?)
forgive me

if I have spoken only of your presence
and never agonised over your absence
forgive me

give me courage to say, God,
that I am angry at the world and you
that things aren’t all different
that you aren’t different
that you are not all I need you to be

and I do not know what you can make of this
That is all I have faith left to pray

—-

Write the names of those for whom your heart is breaking in the bowl of water.
Join your love to their tears.

###

On top of the clenched fists, a bowl of white paint and the following words:

Our greatest act of faith is not to look for the day
when things will be better or when hope will triumph.
it’s to let this grief be grief
this anger be all consuming

as our tears run
as our fists clench
as words fail us

—-

What are you raging about?
Or what do you wish you could rage about?

Clench your fist.
Dip it in the paint.
Make your mark on the fabric.

###

On top of the ‘writing’, some black pens and the following words:

If there are things that need to be said to God, write them here.

And rip some of the words to take with you
As an act of faith that God will speak back to you.

###

And at the exit…

This is not the end of Job’s story.
Go with the faith that
this is not the end of yours, either.