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?