Job, Part 4
The deep blue sky above the land
Of Uz was cloudless. Stillness spanned
The circle of the earth with peace,
As if there had been made to cease
Some monumental strife unseen
Beyond the blue and arching screen
Of heaven — a great inverted sea,
White-capped from some deep anarchy,
As though a wild Leviathan
Thrashed down its dirt to dim the sun
And bloody every morning sky.
But now a calm as far as eye
Could see, a silent azure pool
Of massive space above the cool
And restful evening, without pain
Or any red and boding stain
Up-bleeding from the sutures of
The distant soil and sky above
The land of Uz.
Job felt the breeze
Against his healthy skin. "To seize
This moment would, I think, be here
An ample recompense. One year
Of misery, he thought, is not
too long, to see of heaven what
I've seen, and watch the pow'r to heal,
And loving, and feel what I now feel.
Unless perhaps six years have made
The recollected pain to fade,
And turn the memory of dread
Into a noble cause, and shred
The fabric of reality
And truth beyond identity."
He looked across the fields of wheat,
And endless rolling hills of sweet
Green pasture-lands for all his herds
And flocks, and thought, "There are no words
To speak the substance of my soul
And joy to God, nor yet extol
His worth above the vast rebirth
Of all my dreams. No dancing mirth
Can suit or satisfy the kind
Of tearful pleasure that I find
When I recall what I have lost
By his decree, and what it cost
to see my God." He looked down at
The glowing little girl who sat
Before him on the grass — the first
Child born to Dinah since she nursed
The dead. Job wondered if there might
be more in years to come despite
The treasure that Jemimah was.
He'd sometimes walk the hills of Uz
Alone, and lift his hands and break
Out singing that the Lord could make
A little girl like this from bone
And flesh that once could only groan
And grieve the loss of every child.
The little girl looked up and smiled:
"What are you thinking, Papa?" Job
Thought for a while, then said, "You probe
Perhaps, Jemimah, where the road
Is rougher and the mental load
Too heavy for your little mind."
"I like it, Papa, when you find
A story you can tell about
Your life. Why were you sick?" "I doubt
That you would understand," he said.
"Do you?" she asked. "Your little head
May not perhaps grasp all the Why,
But it may do us good to try.
Your daddy once was very rich.
And you had three big sisters which
I loved with all my heart. They died
With seven brothers all inside
A great big house that fell because
A giant wind broke all the laws
We thought we knew. How little did
We know! And then one day amid
The grief I got so sick no one
Could tell that it was me. I'd done
All that I knew to do. But still
It came and vexed my soul until
I almost lost my faith."
Think God made you so sick?" she drew
Her breath and swallowed hard." "I know
You'd like to think that there's a foe
That hurts and God who heals. and that
Would not be wrong; but I have sat
And pondered months in pain to see
If that is true — if misery
Is Satan's work, and happiness
Is God's. Jemimah, we must bless
The Lord for all that's good and bad."
"But, Papa, God's not mean or mad.
He's not our enemy. He's kind
And gentle, isn't he?" "Your mind
Is right, Jemimah, but it's small.
He's gentle, kind, but that's not all.
I have some friends who thought they knew
The mind of God, and that their view
Of tenderness exhausted God's,
And that severity and rods
Could only be explained with blame,
To vindicate his holy name."
"So you think it was God who made
You sick?" "I think God never laid
Aside the reins that lie against
The neck of Satan, nor unfenced
His pen to run at liberty,
But only by the Lord's decree."
"So you think God was kind to make
You sick?" Jemimah asked, "and take
Away your health and all your sons
And friends, and daughters — all the ones
You loved?" "Jemimah, what I think
Is this: The Lord has made me drink
The cup of his severity
That he might kindly show to me
What I would be when only he
Remains in my calamity.
Unkindly he has kindly shown
That he was not my hope alone."
"O, Papa, do you mean your friends
were right?" "No, no, my child, to cleanse
An Upright heart of toxic stains
With searing irons is not like chains
Laid on the soul in penalty
For guile and crimes no one can see.
No, they were wrong. And kindly has
The Lord rebuked good Eliphaz,
And I have prayed for him, and all
is well. You see, their mind was small,
And they could not see painful times
Apart from dark and hidden crimes.
Beware, Jemimah, God is kind,
In ways that will not fit your mind.
It's getting late, Jemimah, come,
I think I hear the bedtime drum.
My little theologian deep,
It's time to say goodnight and sleep.
"But, Papa, please, one more: would you
Tell me about the wind that blew —
About the whirlwind and the word
Of God. You told me once you heard
the very voice of God. What did
"He said, 'There's giant squid
Beneath the sea you've never seen,
And mountain goats above the green
Tree line that bring forth kids on cliffs
So high and steep that little whiffs
Of Wind would make a human fall.'
God asked me, 'Is the wild ox all
At your command? And will he stay
The night beside your crib and play
Or work with you on leashes made
Of hemp? And have the horses brayed
At your command, and do you make
Them leap like locusts? Do they break
Through shield and chariot because
You formed their neck? What laws
Of flight have you designed for hawks?
Have you devised the way he walks
On wind and snatches up his prey
In flight? And could you ever play
With stars to loose Orion, seize
The distant chains of Pleiades?
Where were you, Job, when I with mirth
The great foundations of the earth
Did lay, and all the sons of God
Rejoiced to watch a formless clod
Become the habitation of
My bride? Did you once brood above
The waters and appoint their bounds?
And have you joined the King who crowns
The mammoth sky with morning light?
Come, Job, gird up your feeble might
And make your case against the Lord.
Do you know where the snow is stored
Or how I make the hail and rain,
Or how a buried seed bears grain,
How ravens find their food at night
And lilies clothe themselves with white?
And finally, my servant, Job,
Can you draw down and then disrobe
Leviathan, the king of all
The sons of pride, and in his fall
Strip off his camouflage of strength,
And make him, over all the length
Of earth and heav'n, to serve the plan
Of humble righteousness? I can.
I make Leviathan my rod.
Belovèd Job, behold your God!"
"And what did you say, Papa, when
The Lord was done?" I said, "Amen,
And bowed as low as I could bow.
Come here, my lass, I'll show you how."
And when she crouched before his feet
He picked her up, and with a sweet
And tender grip he said, "Watch this."
And on her cheek he put a kiss.
Behold the light of candle four:
What we have lost God will restore
When he is finished with his art,
The silent worship of our heart.
When God creates a humble hush,
And makes Leviathan his brush,
It won't be long until the rod
Becomes the tender kiss of God.