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“God damn you, God! Damn you, God! I can’t do this anymore! Do you hear me? It’s over! No more!”

It was January 1986, 2:25 A.M. I couldn’t believe the Nor’easter swamping my old sense of God—No footholds left.

I was three weeks post-op from the revision of my total knee replacement, complicated by massive blood loss and dizzying pain. Discharged from the hospital strapped in a whole-leg splint, I had jolted up in bed, snot and tears dribbling down my chin—it felt like alligators were gnawing upon my new joint. The more I yelled, the better I felt until swallowed by sleep.

Later, a Jesuit laughed when I shared this story, assuring me of my deep relationship with God: lovers behave that way, he had added. Ever since, I’ve been intrigued by Job’s story. He came close to cursing God but did not die. I did, but did not.

Recently, I came across another poetic translation of Job (1987), this time, from Hebrew, by the translator, poet, and scholar Stephen Mitchell. An accompanying Introduction reveals his method of approaching this ancient text, developed within oral and scribal traditions from the seventh to the fifth centuries before the Common Era. One of Mitchell’s commentators placed this parable within “crucial post-Holocaust” literature, a timely study for today’s global suffering, unabated by the return to “normalcy.”

In view of my present circumstances, I’ve paid close attention to Job’s concluding words:

I had heard of you with my ears;

   But now my eyes have seen you.

Therefore I will be quiet,

Comforted that I am dust.

Job remains a trustworthy witness to the whirlwind in his psyche, its daunting passage, and resulting experience of ultimate life: A strange friend, during my waiting…

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