Why do I mention all of this? Because today I am comparing the literal story of God telling Abraham to lech l'cha to my personal story of lech l'cha...my d'rash. There are deeper levels to my story as well as Abrahams, that have not yet been revealed to me. I know this, and that mystery is part of not just my personal journey (or Abraham's) but yours as well. Abraham's story, my story on some level is your story as well. Every day of our lives the mystery is revealed a tiny bit more, but if we don't pay attention, we miss it. We miss the mysterious beauty, the tenderness, the awesomeness, the blessings hidden beneath the surface events of our lives.
I read recently (yes miracle of miracles I was able to finally read a normally sized font from a book!), in the brilliant and heart opening book, To Bless the Space Between Us, by John O'Donohue (may his memory be a blessing), about beginnings. Here is a passage that really struck me:
This weeks Torah portion Lech L'cha...is the story of God telling Abraham to leave his family behind...to go to an undisclosed location...to leave behind all that is/was familiar and trust in this Entity...this One God that only he can hear...to set out on on a journey...the journey that will eventually define who he is and how he will be remembered to his progeny.
Who among us has not felt that Awesome call to set out on the Journey of our life? Perhaps for some of us we have "heard" the voice calling us to take several journeys (branches of the same journey?) at different times in our lives. Maybe some of us have been too busy with the ins and outs of daily living (understandably) to notice the "call", yet continue along our path anyway.
Some interpret the Hebrew text as "Go forth"...others say it is a call to "Go to one's self". I humbly submit my opinion, that it might mean both things at the same time. I am not a scholar, just a curious learner and teacher. (We are all learners and teachers!)
First of all, lets back up to "hearing the voice of God"...for most of us (I imagine) this is not a thundering voice that is audible through our ears. It is a feeling, a knowing, a longing that comes from deep inside of us. It feels familiar and urgent. Maybe you would consider it your own inner voice...or maybe it is a voice slightly different from your own...and this "sounds" like the Divine One calling to you. I cannot say how other people experience this feeling. I can only speak from my own life.
Maybe "calling" is the wrong word here. Lets insert the word "sending" or "instruction", to leave the country (the life) you know and begin a strange journey into a territory you have no previous knowledge of. This "sending" is not a choice...it is simply the way it is. Perhaps that is how Abraham felt.
Right now, in my life, this is how I feel. I am being sent on a journey into a land of illness and self discovery that is completely new and unfamiliar to me. Gordon and I found out on Thursday that my MS is more aggressive than we originally were led to believe. The reason I am not like other people's friends and relatives who are on such and such a medication and feeling great...is because my disease is in a different phase of development. I really am feeling worse every day because the lesions are developing rapidly in my brain and probably my spinal cord too.
Talk about a journey into unknown territory. Talk about leaving behind the life I knew. The good news is that I get to take my family on this adventure with me. The tricky thing is discerning God's messages to me...faith, hope, gratitude in the midst of fear, pain and confusion. And yet when I think about what John O'Donohue wrote, ..."our very life here depends directly on continuous acts of beginning. But these beginnings are out of our hands; they decide themselves."
It is simply the way it is.
There is a drug option to slow down the disease that could put me into remission and allow me to enjoy life as an embodied being again...this of course would still be a move forward not a return to my former life...as I am a bit different than I was when this all began (even if I established in a previous blog entry that I am still ME). To go on this medication, I must go through an approval process. Not everyone gets approved...by the company that authorizes use of this drug or by the insurance company to cover it (it is very expensive!)...on top of that it is a drug that carries a devastating risk; a brain infection that is incurable and could kill me. The chances of that happening are extremely low...but obviously the stakes are high. If I do nothing or stay on the medication I'm currently taking, my health will continue to decline...my disability will certainly become more profound. Staying is not really staying.
For Abraham, staying in Ur would have been disabling...he would not have grown as a human being, his ideas and longings would have been crushed...his understanding and faith in One God might have died. He had to go deep into himself and discern what it was this One God wanted him to do. He had to find the faith to lech l'cha.
I am at this point myself. What am I supposed to do? Stay or go. On the one hand, it's not even completely up to me. I have to wait for the doctors, the drug company, the insurance company...to decide if I'm actually sick enough to go on this medication. On the other hand...if they approve it (which seems pretty likely) I still have to decide: do I want to risk this potent drug coursing through my body and brain. Do I want to risk the disability that will surely continue to worsen if I don't take the drug. Do I trust what the doctors are telling me about the potential for this medicine to put me in remission and give me a chance at a somewhat "normal" life? Do I have faith that God will be Present with me whatever I choose...because I have a few choices ...but in ulitimately I have already been sent on this journey and there is no turning back...the country (the life) I knew, no longer exists for me. As a wise man once wrote: "Perhaps the art of harvesting the riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally." So I think my decision is mostly made, I want to begin this drug therapy...it now depends on the wisdom and generosity of "the powers that be" to determine if I am a suitable candidate for this medication.
Like Abraham's story...mine will unfurl, not from the parchment scroll of a Torah...but from the Torah of my life unfolding...breath by breath, moment by moment...and God willing, if my legs become strong again...step by gentle step.
How will my progeny...my sweet daughters, Belin and Rosewillow, remember me someday? Will they want to share my story/their story with their children and grandchildren as I have shared Abraham's story with them? Will they understand that my choices were limited...that I was sent on this journey and that although this is not the path I imagined for them, for their Dad for me...that God said "lech l'cha..." and (back to the present) here we are in the midst of this incredibly strange, frightening and completely love infused journey?
When they look back at this time in our lives will they feel faith or fear, hope or pain, gratitude or confusion...will they re-experience all of that, or something different, something more?
I pray that what they feel is more...that it is the boundless love I feel for them, on my grumpy days, my joyful days, my sad days, my silly days, throughout every single day since each of them was born.
Boundless love...more "continuous acts of beginning".