Showing Up: TorahCycle Vayeira

Vayeira 2013

Sometimes we’re asked to do things we don’t want to do. Dinner at your least favorite relative’s. Job-hunting. Dieting. But these are mild and paltry compared to Abraham’s task: to take his son to a mountaintop and sacrifice him.

I’m jumping past an abundance of deep theological issues to ask what happens when you’re asked to do the seeming impossible.

This reading pivots on the word hineini, I am here. An answer given three times. Hineini’s about showing up. About bringing along every part of yourself, faith to doubt and everything in-between. Integrated, even for one instant.

The old quote says Life is made up of moments. Rembrant’s great painting of the Isaac sacrifice depicts the moment when everyone is completely present. It speaks to the exquisite tension of not knowing what will come next. The peek-ahead/fast forward part of you that wants to but doesn’t.

What does being fully present require? It means dropping all fear, all doubt, all attachment to past or outcome. It transcends reason. There’s a trust in the flow that says, If I really show up, what follows will be as it should be.

There’s a big concept in spirituality about surrender: “letting go and letting God.” In contrast to the western idea that we’re responsible for what happens to us. Countered by the Greek idea of fate, or the Islamic inshallah, as God wills it. Or eastern karma: you get what deserve; but your earned betterment might not show up this incarnation.

These days there’s lots of mixed messaging about conscious co-creation. “The Secret” offers us everything, if we just want it enough. The accusation “control freak” judges us harshly for trying too hard to bend the universe to our desires.

How can you find the right balance? Start by releasing what keeps you tied to old patterns. Put them on the altar and let them go. Show up for the change you profess to want.

Sometimes we must sacrifice exactly what we most cherish. Our closely held beliefs. Our addictions. Things we think we cannot live without. Precisely what keeps us tethered to our old patterns.

But it isn’t easy. Even to let go of what seems obvious to release (your anxieties, your painful memories, your sadnesses). They’re entwined in your roots. Part of your identity. Become so much a part of you that you’ll need the knife to cut them out. You may fear the process will hurt, or that their absence will change you too much. Yes, ouch.

But what if you could put anything that holds you back on an altar, and poof have it gone? Like an angel appearing. Your problems solved.

In earth reality it doesn’t happen so simply. Our lives are a complex symphony of surrender and control. Showing up, doing, hoping, and praying in a busy, awkward, uncertain dance. All in the hope that a wise and useful answer will become clear.

This week, think about the hardest sacrifice you could make in the service of your goals. Open every receptor you have. Listen to what you’re told. Then ask yourself how you can be fully present to follow through.

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