UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Photo by Gene Daniels

Dear Job

‘Expressing our grief for the state of Earth is an honest and brave response to our current reality.’

By Carolyn Pogue

Dear Job,

It's likely you don't receive much mail. You’re one of the sad sacks of our biblical heritage — about as much fun as John the Baptist! But I appreciate the story that you left us, even when you were sitting in the garbage heap of your own life.

Personally, I don't feel that my life is in shambles at the moment; I'm grateful for that. But when I see the state of Earth, Job, I feel sad. Can you hear the groaning and shrieking over where you are? Central and North America, in particular, have had a hard summer.

It’s written that your life began well. You were in a regular Garden of Eden, remaining happily married with kids and successful in business. You had health, friends and faith. Then it all went sideways.

Here in Alberta, our oil patch dictates a boom-and-bust economy. Your life has been played out here often; you had it all and lost it all. Your lament in the face of calamity is why I'm writing to you.

As I alluded to above, we’re in a bit of a mess right now: extreme weather, a refugee crisis, nuclear testing, income disparity — it’s a long list. The response to these things, Job, is often to do what former U.S. President George W. Bush suggested after 9/11: go shopping, divert our attention, enjoy life and get back to normal. It's tempting, sure, but don't we need to do what you did first? Don't we need to lament the mess we have here?

Twenty-five years ago, I joined The Compassionate Friends. It's the worst club a person can join because it’s for bereaved parents and siblings. My first need was to be with people who understood my desire to smash glass, scream, swear, weep and fall apart. My second need (I say with humility) was to "graduate."

Back then, your story helped me to inch forward through the darkest times. Your tale, written like a play, fired my imagination. You spent the first two acts ranting at God, picking at your scabs and fighting with friends. But act three finds you gob-smacked into silence. Out of the whirlwind, God roars, “where were you when I laid the foundation of earth [and] the morning stars sang?”

When you were finally silent, you could next hear the tenderness. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you." (Job 12:7-8)

In his book, Love and the Soul: Creating a Future for Earth, Robert Sardello writes, "Grieving has become more open and recognized in many therapeutic endeavors over the past several years. . . . I believe that the prevalence of this emotion is something more than personal, more than a psychological process belonging to an individual. It is world-oriented . . .”

Sardello also argues that collective grieving can help us to live more fully in the world as it is today. Expressing our grief for the state of Earth, I believe, is an honest and brave response to our current reality.

The wisdom in your story, Job, is not how it ends, but that you lamented when that was the only sane thing to do. Thanks for that.



This is the eighth in Carolyn Pogue’s “Letter to a Spiritual Ancestor” series.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a Calgary author and longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image