Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.

Translate

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Standing On The Edge



You are standing on the edge: the sea of reeds before you the army of Pharaoh behind. You do not know how to swim. All you have in the world is upon your back, a meager supply of unrisen bread made in haste, a jug of water, perhaps enough to last a day. You do not know what is on the other side. You have never been beyond your encampment or the city until this moment. Your extended family and neighbors are breathing heavily all around you. You can still hear the haunting wails of terrified mourners, mothers, beseeching Ra to wake up dead sons. They are cursing your people, your God, the One you don’t remember. The sound of foot-falls, frightened and hurried keep time with your pounding heart, but you stand still; waiting, mud seeping up between your calloused toes, on the soft edge of that uncertain shore. The soldiers thunder closer. Desperate humanity surrounds you pushing onward, miles deep; so many bodies, young and old, strong and weak. The cacophonous noise fills your ears. Your eyes had nearly been blinded by the commonness of suffering until now; you had been surviving in numb denial. Even your nostrils cannot escape the stench of fear; it is unbearable. But there is something else, something truly unfamiliar. Hope? Maybe. Faith? What are these words that are entering your mind? You have never dared think them before. As you stand there gazing out toward the unknown, you feel it in the pit of your belly; someone must be brave. There is nowhere else to go. You close your eyes and step into the sea…one, two, three, four…ten, twelve, fourteen. Now the water reaches the vertical indentation between your upper lip and your nose. The exact place your mother told you about when you were a small child. What was the story? 
Oh yes, this is where an angel had touched you the instant before you were born, to make you forget.
But now you remember.
You remember God.
God remembers you.
The waters part
and the people are free to cross, 
because you 
took 
the 
first 
step. 

One of the responsibilities at a Seder is to tell the story of the Exodus as if each of our souls were truly present. And we did that at ours last night as we sat together, family and friends. We will do so again this evening. Here I've chosen to share the moment just before crossing the sea of reeds. This is based on a midrash, an expansion of the biblical story about a man remembered as Nachshon ben Aminadav, who took the first to step into the water. I also incorporated the angel midrash, because it blended well for me, as I imagined myself in Nachshon's place. (Consider it a midrash mash-up!)

The thing is, this ancient story from the Torah could just as easily apply to refugees fleeing from modern day nations. It is not hard to visualize someone from Darfur or North Korea, Ivory Coast or Libya standing at the edge of a border, terrified and longing for a life free from violence, poverty, and hunger. Just like Nachshon took that first step into the water in the story, we must take action in our time. It is incumbent upon us to take the steps to support  freedom, to supply those in greatest need with food, shelter and medicine. In Hebrew we call this Tikun Olam, Repairing the World. Nachshon was not the de facto leader, (Moses was) but his courageous initiative and faith made a difference. You and I can too.

Here are a few organizations that assist refugees around the world. Please consider a generous donation today, so tomorrow will be a little brighter for a friend far away, or perhaps closer than you think:

linking to:

 

56 comments:

  1. One of the reasons those Biblical stories continue to resonate across millennia is that they speak to universal themes in human experience. Thank you for sharing this one.
    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice...has been a while since i went to seder service but love the story and you tell it well...hope you are good today

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have made it possible to feel the moments of decision ... the entering into the unknown.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Laura, thank you for your evocative description of our ancients at the lip of the Red Sea. I find it difficult to breathe life into the Haggadah--sometimes it can seem programmatic--but you've offered me another viewing and an understanding of its relevance in such a visceral way. Chag sameach!

    ReplyDelete
  5. so many layers, levels of "life" and fear of change in this story passage. Great link to Now, too.

    I have been liiking at old coins, old relics from 100 A.D. and Plus, some of the coins have the same look of our penny, and I think of Christ's words about everything mighty falling... America, our time now, will also slip into time; ipods; our first blogs, all of this THUSNESS< a part of history too. A link.

    blessings on you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's amazing and heartbreaking how such history keeps repeating itself...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yesterday, today... and tomorrow... so many are forced to flee the different forms of tyranny of man... or just move to find a better life. Thank you for caring, Laura.

    ReplyDelete
  8. As a Christian, I've always wanted to attend a seder. I want to more than ever now! Thanks for letting me have a window into your celebration.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you so much for another wonderful post Laura :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a touching practice! You told the story beautifully :o)

    ReplyDelete
  11. we should all be in that healing and spiritual world so as to heal it and have sweeter lives...
    Thanks for this, Laura, and everything else...
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Refugees...exactly what I thought after reading only the first couple of lines.

    Thank you for the list of charitable organizations. We've been donating to Haiti through our church's Haitian pastor there...not through the doors of their government who will misuse the funds.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sky and water in one - life - great photo!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I got caught up in the story, and forgot the picture! Both are excellent.

    The Red Sea crossing is a theme throughout the Bible which shows God's provision for and protection of His people. They crossed from death to life because He made a way. But each of them had to decide to obey.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Special One
    Thank you
    The story
    over and over
    year after year
    still makes my
    heart beat so fast
    and my eyes fill with tears...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful photo, love the reflection of the sky. Thanks for sharing the meaning of the seder.

    ReplyDelete
  17. you have a remarkable gift for story-telling... i felt like i was right there. thank you for sharing your seder with us. and the message is clear. we step forward into the unknown, by faith. and He won't fail us...

    thanks also for the links...

    ReplyDelete
  18. Laura...
    You sent shivers up and down my spine.
    Shalom!

    ReplyDelete
  19. In the home I made with my Jewish husband we honored both traditions and I tried to make a seder each year for my sons.
    There is a lot to be learned from the story of Exodus as you point out, compassion for those wandering homeless in the wilderness is one thing we can all take from the story.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This post spoke so much to my heart and soul..All of me and my being needs so much healing not just my body but the heart and soul that is .
    Peace to you my friend..
    Katelen

    ReplyDelete
  21. Beautiful shot! Hope you can also check out my entry . Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Excellent midrash, Laura. It brings home how easy it is to romanticze other people's suffering and forget how terrifying the experience is/was.

    ReplyDelete
  23. such beautiful and timeless story :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Very nice shot!
    Thanks for sharing;o)

    ***
    Have a nice and happy day****

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a terrific shot! The reflection of the mountains and sky, so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a magnificent story teller you are Laura! and photographer :) You have highlighted a few of my favorite nonprofit recipients. Wonderful post.
    xoxoxox

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey I am just around the corner from you in Exeter. We have had a few members in the Curves where i work that have MS.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for sharing, Laura, and yes...that could easily be the story of (too) many in in the world today. I love your photo, too...I first thought I was looking at the sky itself!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love the way you tell a story. I could feel the mud and the water and the fear. I also love your ability to teach such powerful lessons with your stories. Thank you for this today.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wonderful post! I like how you've compared the Exodus to modern day struggles for freedom.

    ReplyDelete
  31. An amazing photo! Thanks for your commentson my blog! Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for writing an excellent post.
    Love the reflection :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. enjoyed reading your post I invite you to come visit me at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for sharing this story. This is the first time I'd heard it told like this. I'm very moved.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Beautiful shot.

    My Watery, I'd be delighted if you can take a peek.

    ReplyDelete
  36. What is faith? Faith is the loss of fear is freedom. And few use it in the correct term.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am a witness to how your faith and your own suffering has enabled you to describe the Seder so eloquently.

    My favorite line was "Your eyes had nearly been blinded by the commonness of suffering until now; you had been surviving in numb denial".

    It isn't until we have suffered that we understand the suffering of all.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh WOW!! I have been standing at an edge very much like that for sometime now. I NEEDED to hear this story and your words AT THIS VERY MOMENT in my life. I know this may sound strange, but all of a sudden it is VERY clear to me what I should do and what the first step I take should be!!
    I am not Jewish, but understand your words completely. THANK YOU for your story and relating it to the present!! You have an obvious gift. Glad to see you've found it and are putting it to good use!!
    And to think that I was just 'popping' over to tell you thank you for your kind comments!! It was meant to be.... :D

    ReplyDelete
  39. I never read the Red Sea story quite like this. Fresh, real, with heart. And Amen – they were refugees – God’s refugees – but refugees. Thank you for this Seder touch on my life.

    ברוך השם, להחזיק אתכם ואת כל שלך
    God bless and keep you and all of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I love the way you breathed fresh life into this moment. I could stand there with you and feel the panic rising before the rescue.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love the rich story telling tradition you share. It makes the events real and is the best way to experience history all these centuries later. I am sure the guests at your table were enthralled ~ I know I would have been.

    ReplyDelete
  42. You've told this so very well, thank you. I feel as if each day offers some kind of edge, big or small ...

    ReplyDelete
  43. Dear Laura,


    we never know what will happens in the future....we never know what will find when will we crosss the other side of a river but I know it doesn´t matter what happens, my GOD will be with me....He will be with you. He will be with us.
    Thanks for sharing a new text.
    love u
    http://graceolsson.com/blog/2011/04/nothing-lasts-forever-2/

    ReplyDelete
  44. wonderful post and great photos

    ReplyDelete
  45. That's a very nice story, it makes every one to ponder.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Great post and love all your photos.

    ReplyDelete
  47. But now you remember.
    You remember God.


    this was so powerful, laura. you really put me there, in the moment, and made me feel God's power. the power of being remembered. i pray your day is holy and happy, dearest friend. xo

    ReplyDelete
  48. Beautiful post combining images and words.
    Congrats on your helping your daughter to her next step of growing up and hope she has the most amazing time in Paris.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Beautiful post Laura! You have such a visual way of telling a story, I can see it all in my mind, hear the cries, smell the mud.

    In 1974 I worked as an au-pair in the home of a jewish family in London, England. I had the privilege of celebrating Passover with them, such a unique experience!

    I wish you a happy Passover, and much blessing as you celebrate with your loved ones, and as you follow your daughter's journey to Europe!
    Hugs :-)

    ReplyDelete

Bright Sparks: