Let’s look again today at the Sun/Neptune conjunction.
This morning I was revisiting the book of Job, and a few passages stood out as particularly relevant given both the Sun/Neptune conjunction and the enormous amount of gloom and doom I’ve seen regarding the presidential election in my facebook feed (mostly surrounding Donald Trump). The single most recurring statement I’m reading goes something like this, “We’re finally going to get what’s coming to us if we elect Trump, or so and so, as president.”
Randomly this morning I found myself in the middle of the discussion in the book of Job where Job’s friends are trying to convince him that the reason he has experienced so much misfortune is because of his personal sins. They essentially tell him he’s not spiritually pure enough and that he is being punished by God for his sins. Job rebukes his friends and suggests that if they were examined God wouldn’t find any less fault, and yet they have not lost what Job has lost.
One of the deeper lessons of the book of Job is therefore related to our not knowing the exact causes of our calamities. How much less can we know them socially when we are so frequently puzzled by their presence personally? Isn’t it abundantly clear that immoral and selfish people are often greatly rewarded in this world while good people suffer? So how much does the word “deserve” really deserve?
And anyway, the word deserve actually means something like “to serve completely” or “to be entitled because of good service.” Either way, service is at the heart of the word “deserve,” and service itself means “to labor,” as well as “a celebration of public worship,” “homage,” and “a helpful act.” The word service is also more ominously associated with slavery and servitude.
The Sun/Neptune conjunction similarly brings to mind themes of martyrdom, suffering servants, victims, redeemers, blame, and guilt.
We should therefore be mindful of the following themes:
* Making someone a redeemer or savior
* Blaming our losses or misfortune on someone or something in particular, ourselves included
* Thinking that our suffering or service entitles us to something
* Thinking that a person’s faults or flaws makes them undeserving or generates punishments or bad results
* Thinking that self correction or improved behaviors entitles us to something in return
* Thinking that religious or spiritual devotion is only real if it’s done without complaining, setbacks, or struggling
All of these themes may reflect the personal struggle we have, as humans, to comprehend the vastness of the Universe and our insignificance within it. We make up stories that glorify or justify our actions, our fortune and misfortune, and yet these are all delusions in so far as all things are ends in and of themselves, like waves and rays of light, rising and simultaneously disappearing on the glimmering cosmic ocean.
And yet..there remains a great paradox. Because when our lives resemble this insignificance, like an ongoing liturgical dance, everything overflows with meaning, with grace, with beauty, and with a truth that transcends the endless filling or emptying, the deserving or undeserving alike. And for me this gets at the heart of the word “service.” To wed our lives to this paradox is an act of service insofar as we are more able to help those who are fixated on the wheel of deserving and undeserving. There is no “I told you so,” or “once we arrive,” just the same attending to the work, and the releasing of deserve.
To this we are ironically yoked, chained by love to the act of liberation. And it’s okay for us to rejoice in this or to suffer it’s burden, and sometimes both at once. We are humans, and our minds and bodies will pass away, just as surely as we are not responsible for the passage of time, for its beginning or its end.
So when it comes to the political race, and to many other calamities happening around the world right now, these are the things I’ve been reminded of in prayer, so that I don’t get swept into the rage, and the curses of deserving and undeserving.
At the end of the book of Job, after Job has stayed loyal to God despite not knowing why so many bad things have happened, and also not falling into the ego trap of assuming total responsibility for all the painful things that have happened (as though results of his sins), God compares himself to a giant sea dwelling monster and uses the imagery of tremendous oceanic power to put into context all the claims about what we “deserve.”
“Look at the behemoth…which I made along with you…
under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words? Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life? Can you fill his head with harpoons or fishing spears? If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? …Nothing on earth is his equal – a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.”