Sunday, October 11, 2015

From the Whirlwind

God shows up. And God has an answer for Job in the reading for Proper 23/Ordinary 28/Pentecost +20 (selected verses from Job 38). God speaks out of a whirlwind, so not only does Job get God, Job gets drama. Big drama. Big weather. And out of the whirlwind God reminds Job that it was God who laid the foundation of the created world. It was God who flung the lights into space and started the planets whirling. It was God who formed the hippo and the alligator. It was God who spat out the oceans. God whose hands clapped and thunder rolled. God who orchestrated the rising of trees and the greening of leaves. God. All God.

Other voices have spoken out of other storms, other whirlwinds. Mississippi artist H.C. Porter helped people find their voices after Hurricane Katrina decimated the coast of her native state in 2005. She spent a year traveling the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She listened to sufferers, and she told their stories through her work as a mixed media artist. Many of those stories were stories of resilience and faith overcoming the loss of everything that the world would consider important. Others told other stories. While Porter told their stories visually, her subjects also told their stories orally, and those voice recordings accompany the paintings in the exhibition. They are speaking out of a whirlwind.

It's difficult to name a person whose life has not been touched in some way by loss, sorrow and the question of why God seems absent. Certainly Job's life was touched by loss, and he felt that God was nowhere near to him. But God's answer to Job reminds us of the psalmist's assurance that God is present and we need not fear, even if the mountains shake in the heart of the sea. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." We, too, can trust the God who made all that is.

For H.C. Porter's exhibition "Backyards and Beyond: Mississippians Tell Their Stories", see: http://www.hcporter.com/katrina/index.asp. For the published catalog that accompanied the exhibition, see: http://www.amazon.com/Backyards-Beyond-Mississippians-Their-Stories/dp/0981849903 Original work is available on the artist's website.

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