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.
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: