Friday, April 10, 2009


During Passover, Jews are asked to acknowledge the history of slavery. Not only should we "acknowledge" it: we should act as if we were personally enslaved and personally freed.

This year, I'm making a point to remember that I was also personally a slave owner as well. Somehow this thought makes me feel more responsible for change, for working to heal the world.

Passover has an inherently political edge. It is a time to think about the changes we must make, to consider the revolts and rebellions that may be necessary to create a world rooted in justice. It is a time to devote ourselves to tikkun olam, the repair of our damaged world.

Many Jews ask what things in our selves and in our surroundings keep us enslaved now. Then we think about ways we might loosen those bonds and step away from our own Mitzrayim, our own narrow place--no matter how safe and cozy it might seem at any given moment. When we are able finally to make that first step, we will begin to see how constrained we have been. Only at that point is an end to freedom--and a start to independence--possible.

I spend Passover thinking about how to become ready to make a change, how to be ready to abandon the things that hold us back even if they seem to put us in such a secure place right now.

Many parts of my own personal narrow place are internal personality traits--parts of my self that hold me (and those around me) back from where we could go. One is my sometimes-extreme shyness. Another is my fear of anger, whether it is in myself or in others (anger towards me or towards others). Yet another is my reluctance to do or say anything that could make me stand out too much. And a biggie: I think about big issues until they are fully dissected, get depressed (too often in a too serious way), and do nothing about whatever the issues are.

Now is the time to put down our backpacks of heavy bloatedness. Now is the time to walk forth, away from the sometimes-comforting tightness of the Narrow Place and into the broad open fields of freedom, that place that sometimes seems too scary to enter.


So what is your own narrow place which you need to escape in order to be liberated and whole? What do you need to put down to create a better future for yourself and for all the world? How will we create our own wide open fields? What will they be like?


Heather @ SGF said...

I'm working on relaxing particularly when things don't go according to plan. In other words - going with the flow. I'm much better than I used to be, but it's easy to become a "slave" to the plan and miss out on the enjoyment of other things. Planning is good, but only with the understanding that everything is subject to change without notice :)

The Tell-Tale Heart said...

What a powerful idea - revisiting Passover from the perspective of having been (and continuing to be) slave owners. What is our personal and collective response to being oppressors? And more importantly perhaps, what should it be?

My own backpack is bloated with habits that stop me from seeing the value and wisdom of other people's approaches to questions I think I know the answer to. My liberation will come when I learn to be more open and to view each situation with curiosity.

Theresa said...

Heather, I am certain you are my clone! I too have this very strong attachment to fixed plans.

Wait a minute: TTH - I have that blockage in my bloated backpack as well.

Working on seeing things clearly without bias or expectation is a very hard thing for me to do.

Anonymous said...

Hello, love your blog.

I'm trying to take opportunities that come to me and the messages they bring. For example, my two daughters are living back at home. One had a child in a relationship that went bad, the other is just in transition.

When they were younger I was working furiously to make it for us all, as a single parent. Now, I'm more relaxed and less stressed, more mature. I've been given a second chance to influence them by example. Its amazing that as I pick up a more aware and healthy life style, they are picking up some of the habits and ideals as well.

This of course challenges me to push myself further in that direction, so I am trying to remember not to blow it this time, relax, enjoy the time they are here and remember that survival is more than working 9 to 5. Way more.

The Van Goat Ranch said...

I really love your blog. Just discovered it the other day. Interesting post. I just had a hip replacement and I am now home again after spending 5 weeks at my sister's house recuperating. It's good to be home and I feel strongly that this is the time to push away all the baggage and burden I carried before the surgery - severe pain, immobility, and major loss of the quality of my children's lives in addition to mine. It's not the same as what you were talking about but I feel a kindred sense of spirit. Thank you.

JessTrev said...

I love this post. I have been ruminating lately about the things I must somehow fear, since I have been avoiding them. I read somewhere recently that a woman had made a list of things she was afraid to do -- and then methodically had gone through the list and done each and every one of those things. What a powerful idea. So this post so resonates with me. Hmmm...what is in my backpack? For me, I'd like to work on living with less frustration, impatience, and anger. I'd like to liberate myself and those around me from shortsighted, knee-jerk reactions to situations that could be seen with compassion.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin