It took forever but we are finally here. After all the festivities, gifting, and celebrating, we woke up the other day to a clean new year. One unsullied by bad decisions or old habits. A blank slate. Tabula rasa. A new chance to get things right. Resolutions made. Vows to keep them. Optimism abounds.
Not so fast. We have just entered the book of Exodus.
I’ll assume you read the book or saw the movie. Baby Moses cast into the bulrushes to escape genocide: raised in the palace; kills an overseer who’s abusing Hebrew slaves; is exiled to the wilderness; sees a burning bush on Mt. Sinai; talks directly to God; returns to free the enslaved.
The big punch line of the next several chapters is that we get out of slavery. But the work in-between now and then, and the even harder work after, when the overseer is inner not outer, fills the next four books.
This process is a metaphor of “the hero’s journey” that Joseph Campbell wrote about so eloquently. You have to go into the darkness and make it through to find and appreciate the light. Baby Moses represents our holy spark: waiting to be rescued and reclaimed. For now we need to engage the parts of us that are willing to look into that dark place and use what we see to transform ourselves.
It’s the journey of a lifetime, with oh so many paths, both twisting and straight, obstructed and clear. It can be hard to find our way, but it happens with small steps, one step at a time.
Making bricks under an overseer’s whip is a vivid image of the darkness. Direct communion with The Source is a worthy goal. But to get there you must choose the light, and reinforce that choice with every small decision that follows. That’s what our resolutions are about. I’ve been stuck doing X, Y, or Z. I want to change. Instead it’s time to do _______. Fill in the blank.
In Torah there is a deus ex machina to help. Literally. The divine hand, expressed through acts of wonder and magic, plagues and punishment. More on that soon. But the core question remains: Do you like things how they are or do you want them to change? Really? What’re you prepared to differently to turn your resolutions into reality? Are you waiting for a miracle or are you ready to step up? Now? When? How often and consistently? What will make the changes sustainable, not failed attempts?
Moses answers at the burning bush with a word we see at important moments in Torah. He is called and he answers hineini, I am here. It is an acknowledgment both that he has heard the call and that he is willing to be to respond. To step up.
This journey is all about showing up. Step by step. It’s not about saying No, thanks. Please don’t ask me to up the ante on myself. It is about listening to the guides around you and the knowing inside you, and then doing your work 24/7. It’s about choosing hineini, to be present in every moment and choice of your life, Every step on your journey.
Happy New Year.