Do not gloat at my fate, my enemy;
although I am down now, I will rise up.
Although I am in darkness now, the Eternal One will be my light.
I’ve been reflecting a bit this week on two different passages in my own sacred text. The first is from a book called Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a slave in exile in Babylon, serving as the wine steward for the King – basically the poison tester. And he received a vision from the Divine about returning to his homeland to rebuild the ruins that were left by this empire that enslaved him. In prayer and courage, he ends up getting the ear of the King, who gives him every resource to return and rebuild the city. The second is from a book called Micah. Micah was a prophet in the same city that Nehemiah rebuilds, but hundreds of years earlier. He writes against the corruption of political and spiritual leaders of his time. I find so much resonance in these passages right now. It can sometimes feel like we are adrift in a world whose leaders have lost their compass, their True North. Our spiritual leaders are more and more often like white-washed tombs, who are unable to address the real issues facing people today. And our political leaders continue to create more and more hostility and division while removing safety nets and support structures. It’s a nerve-wracking time to be alive.
And yet, this is the time that we have been born into, with all our (im)Perfection. Our invitation to Tamim – whole-hearted living – in these times is the call of both Micah and Nehemiah.
We are called not only to speak truth to power, to call out the devastation as “NOT GOOD” – and also to be the rebuilders of the rubble, with a sword in one hand and tools in the other.
Most of you have figured out by now that I’m an ultra-pacifist – like as peace-y and non-violenty as you can get. But this image, of not just rebuilding, but using a sword is critical to me. For me, a sword is a tool of defense and also healing. In battle, yes, swords were used to kill, but they were also used to cauterize wounds, they were literally vessels of truth, as words of honor were inscribed upon them. Swords were not just instruments of death, but also instruments of authority, conferring honor and appointments of power upon people. And in these times, all of this is needed.
Most of you are on this journey with me because you resonate with the statements above, but haven’t really felt free to walk into it.
Constrained by history, by tradition, by community.
But what would it look like if each one of us knew that we weren’t alone in this adventure into the wilderness? What if instead of feeling like the only one who feels this way, we could know and trust that there’s a little tribe of others around us who are exploring these same issues? What if you knew that if you hopped out of the nest you are embedded in, that there would be a whole little host of angels surrounding you to help you fly?