Posted by: jevcat | March 29, 2010

Passover

I hadn’t intended a post on Passover, but on the ferry this morning, I started thinking about it.  I’m a Christian who grew up in a neighborhood about evenly split between Christians and Jews (at least in my youngest years), dated a Jewish guy for several years, had a Jewish great-grandfather, spent 15 years working for a Jewish family firm, and for many years joined in Seders as part of the extended family of Jewish friends, so there are many associations.

One of my fondest memories is from when my friends’ oldest was quite young.  Enthroned in her high chair, she was coached to ask the Four Questions and added a plaintive fifth of her own:  “When are we going to eat?”  I suspect she is not the only one to ask that at a Seder, though adults are more likely to leave the question unspoken.

Why is this night different from all other nights?  Because it just is.  And every year it’s different and the same, and in different ways, because that is the nature of the holy.  Passover reminds us, if reminders are necessary, that change happens on God’s schedule, not ours, and to grow means leaving the familiar, which however uncomfortable still has the virtue of being known. 

The journey begins on God’s time, and, if we are not to be left behind, we have to be open to that, even if we think we’re not ready.  Moses didn’t think he was ready; God told him to go to Pharaoh anyway.  Personally, I like my “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed – although when I’m frazzled (too often) it’s likely to wind up “i”s crossed and “t”s dotted.  And I tend to seize any excuse to postpone things that frighten me, however inevitable:  I still remember clearly at the age of six, being prepped for my tonsillectomy, babbling nonstop to the medical staff, and, as the anesthesiologist lowered the mask saying, “There’s just one more thi–…”  (Those who know me well may be thinking I haven’t changed much over the decades.)

At Passover, I can absolutely see myself being the one saying, “But the bread hasn’t risen yet.”  The truth is, there’ll always be a reason not to go – it may not be a good reason, but it will be there.  If we stay, at least we know what to expect.  But (I’m speaking to myself here), if we are willing to let the bread not rise, to let go of that, we have a chance to grab something better.  It will be a struggle, but we’re struggling as it is, moving at least gives hope and promise of a better place, and that pillar of smoke by day and fire by night will always be up ahead.  And I do actually like unleavened bread.

So:  Next year in Jerusalem!

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Responses

  1. Very well said. And this : The truth is, there’ll always be a reason not to go – it may not be a good reason, but it will be there. If we stay, at least we know what to expect. But (I’m speaking to myself here), if we are willing to let the bread not rise, to let go of that, we have a chance to grab something better.

    Is exactly why I’m here in LA.

    It is always a pleasure to read what you write. Have a wonder Passover and Easter, and hopefully I’ll be on the East coast for a visit soon!
    xo
    Melissa

    • Thanks, Melissa. Coming from you, that means a lot. The funny thing is, I was just contemplating e-mailing you today, as I’ve spent the day correcting the new Rite I (language for the King James groupies, as opposed to Rite II modern) collects in the manuscript I’m proofing (freelance), from using second person Elizabethan verbs where they should have used third (i.e., changing “he livest and reignest” to “he liveth and reigneth”). I figured you were one of the few folks who would appreciate the delicious absurdity of it 🙂

    • P.S.
      Do let me know if I start sounding too much like Anne Lamott; I’ve been reading her a lot lately. And a wonderful Passover and Easter to you, too.
      Janet

  2. There are worse things than sounding like Anne Lamott. Anyway; you still sound like you. What you have in common with Lamott (and I strive for this, too) is candor regarding the speed-bumps in your spiritual journey. It’s a blessing to be honest that way. I have always found it enormously inspiring to read her stuff (and yours) because it makes me feel less alone on this rough road. That’s what all the best homilies do.
    And, oh…I say “next year in Jerusalem” in SO many different contexts…


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