"Two of the 'movements' in your restoration, then, were: (1) your abject sense that you knew nothing and, (2) your hearing a message from outside of you affirming that you had been right all along. What did (1) feel like? That is, what did it truly feel like to sit on that ash heap again, knowing not only that you had lost family, health and wealth, but that your legal complaint had been blown to smithereens? While I was trying to understand this, Job, a line came to me from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. When Cassius in despair committed suicide in Act V, thinking that his trusted servant Titinius had been captured, he was mistaken. Titinius, actually, lived. The last words uttered by someone about Cassius' life were, "Alas, thou hast misconstrued every thing" (5.3.84). How is that for an epitaph? You have misconstrued everything. Isn't that about what you must have felt like on the ash heap in 42:6? You, Job, the great Job, the greatest man in the East, the one who dispensed justice with firmness and fairness, who seemed to know everything and every one's business, who had to have construed everything correctly, now were feeling that you had misconstrued everything. You just understand nothing at all. All your life, all your efforts, your late nights and your personal drive, all the understanding that flowed from these things--was an act of self-deception. You had misunderstood it all.
Where do you go once you have realized and admitted to yourself that you have misconstrued everything? Where do you start again? How do you start? If the ways by which you gathered knowledge and seemed to get on top of the world, the ways that seemed so natural to you, have been shown to lead to nothing but loss and rejection, how can you live? How can you reach out to anyone? Say anything? Won't every action flow from the misconstrual that characterized your entire life? Everything you do will be tainted, out of whack, wrong. It is like a person who has become fully crosswise with another. Even the most benign statement you make can be "read" as an expression of hostility. So, what it means that you have returned to the ash heap is that there is absolutely no move you could make, intellectually, physically, emotionally, that could be "right." You are totally without bearings, as ignorant of your position as a pilot who has lost his instruments and is flying in dense fog. You are tumbling in space, without anything to grasp. The vertigo of 19:25 might have been destabilizing, but it came in the wake of a confession of the redeemer/avenger. You KNEW that your redeemer lived, and then your vertiginous journey began in 19:26. But here you have vertigo without the knowledge.
At times, Job, I can only get a glimpse of what your desperate situation must have felt like. I know what it is to have things stripped from myself. I know what it means to have the things on which I have relied be taken from me. Most of all, I know what it is like to have put a lot of effort into something and to have the sense that there is not another human being who understands or cares about anything to which I devoted so much effort. I know what it is like to be immobilized because of lack of knowledge, because of a sense that any step I took would lead to nothingness. I know what internal dishevelment feels like.
But then the word from outside leaned down, as it were, and saved you. It brought unexpected words, words which comforted because it affirmed what you KNEW was true--that you were right, but it brought them just when you were no longer committed to the system of right and wrong which had characterized you in 1-41. The equivalent for me would be to have some great award or reward come to me once I had "given up" and had concluded that human recognition was basically valueless or was not going to happen. Gratifying. Immensely gratifying, but no longer important at all. I think, Job, that you managed to get to a position where being right didn't matter anymore to you, and then you were declared to be "right." But how do you do that? How do you get to the position where all the things you formerly cherished are now not only understood but FELT to be valueless? Why didn't you continue to bear a residual hurt (or did you?) from the treatment your received?
This is all part of the huge question for me, Job, the question of whether in fact restoration ever really takes place after great loss. Well, I think the key for me at this date is that you need to "give up" the things you cherished formerly. You need to "give up" those memories of earlier days when people fawned over you and when the energy of the moment was so utterly real and powerful that you knew that you were just meant for this world and for this time and place. You need to see that as a frozen moment in time, but only a moment. Maybe it was a defining moment for you, but it is in the past. It is gone. You can go back to the same place where you rendered judgment, where the crowds were gathered to wait upon your every word, where the grateful widows, whose hearts you caused to sing, sat and received every word that flowed from your lips. You can still feel the feeling of respect, of honor, of adulation that leapt from people to you. It is so real.
But you have to give it all up. You have to say that it is no longer you, that it will never be the same again. The gift of the past must stay as a gift in the past because if you try to bring it into the present, the past's gift becomes the present's poison. It can just take over the mind and haunt you with the sense that this, or the imagined memory, OUGHT to be the reality of today. But it is not. Today is different, and brings its own set of things. Maybe restoration, Job, is just getting over the gloriousness of the past--a task especially hard for one who has such a good memory.
So many wonderfully jumbled thoughts come from me when I think about the possibilities of your restoration, Job. Thank you for listening and for bringing these ideas to the surface.