into the depths
all week in this old house, we’ve been burrowing deep into ancient and timeless stories. the story of the exodus, pesach, the retelling of the jews’ escape from slavery in egypt, a retelling that elie wiesel, the late great nobel laureate and holocaust survivor, called “a cry against indifference, a cry for compassion.” it is a retelling stitched with blessing, and question, and story.
its leitmotif, “you were strangers in a strange land,” God’s words to Abram, a call to radical empathy, a call to ever open our hearts to those who are strangers, marginalized, in our midst.
after three nights of seder, of coming to tables filled with people we love, after cups of wine, and reciting of plagues, after singing dayenu (the hebrew word for “enough,” as in God’s love would have been more than enough, in a rising series of praises — “if God had only created the world and not brought us out of egypt, it would have been enough”), we pivot to the holiest hours of holy week — or i do anyway.
i am deep now and deepening. i hear the cry of my soul, being pulled into timelessness, into sacred hours and space. i burrow into the stories of the last supper (the seder of Jesus and his twelve apostles), of gethsemane, of the betrayal by Judas, of the mocking and crowning with thorns, of the bone-crushing cross shouldered by Jesus as he stumbled along the trail to his crucifixion at golgotha, the hill just outside jerusalem, the hill where he cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken me,” and then, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” the whole arc of anguish and redemption in two short utterances.
it never fails to draw me deep into the nautilus of prayer.
and so, late yesterday, as the slant of light grew thin and thinner, i was pulled into a jewel box of a medieval stone chapel, its leaded windows a mosaic of cobalt and ruby and aquamarine. i was alone. i had only my prayer and my deepening.
today will be more of the same. the hours of silence, from noon till three, the hour, we’re told, when Jesus let out his final surrender, “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” when he breathed his last, and the sun’s light was extinguished, i will do as generations before me have done: utter not a word, follow my prayer to the hushed place within. i will keep my holy vigil for the suffering that once was, and the suffering that goes on to this day, to this hour.
in both the story of exodus and the story of the crucifixion, we are called not only to honor them as ancient and long-ago narratives. we’re to infuse them with the now. to employ them as holy script, as instruction, imperative, to find in their depths the modern-day call to action: search for the stranger, embrace the stranger. set a place at your table, and make it the finest you have. love even your enemy. forgive your enemy.
turn yourself wholly and finally to God.
both stories, a call to radical empathy. both stories, imploring divine surrender.
both stories i’m burrowing into this week. this week of ancient and timeless holiness. this week with wisdom for now.
may your holy days — however they come — be deep and be blessed.
and happy blessed birthday to my beautiful little ella today turning eight, and to my beloved mother-in-law ginny (the chair’s most loyal reader perhaps) whose day is tomorrow.
All I have been is the one Hebrew word that is constantly in use in both Judaism and Christianity – Amen.
amen. (see below). we are all thinking in unison — or holy communion.
oh my gracious i was just about to write those very words on MPD’s comment above. indeed, amen.
Would you mind if I used a couple sentences of yours at our seder/Easter dinner tomorrow? (with a brisket AND a ham, it is the farthest thing from kosher!) Have a blessed Easter.
sweet angel (of brisket AND ham!!!), i couldn’t be more honored.
with love, bam
As you have been quieting, I have been taking the Lord’s name in vain trying to get out the Easter bulletin … I will read your words above again later, and quiet my heart at the cross. “Divine surrender” is truly what my heart needs, and I will endeavor to get there. Blessed Passover, Happy Easter, dearest heart. xo
you crack me up! hoping and praying that Easter bulletin decided to cooperate and is now dozing quietly in its resting place. hope the day has tiptoed back into your great good graces, and is allowing you to deep breathe that which fills you. xoxoxo Happy blessed Easter. xoxo
The sweet Communion of both faiths in one heart is the gift of this Season
for moi…. both are ancient and riddled with His calling to each of us to surrender to His many Graces and Will and especially, His Love….
A blessed tide, dear Bam….
what a glorious glorious way to put it. thank you, and bless you……so so much. blessed tide to you too.
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