11 Cheshvan 5780
November 8, 2019
Abraham was a traveler on a liberating path marked by potholes. He was commanded by God: “Lech lecha. Go. Go to yourself. Leave who you were behind, everything and everyone you’ve known.” (Genesis 12:1- 17:27, paraphrased) God’s command is deeply personal. And each time we, Abraham’s children, revisit that divine imperative, it plunges us yet again into an unknown future. More than that: The sacred call to journey forth is accompanied, every time, by real risk, and without the fortifying mixture of faith and trust — faith that the future might hold blessing, trust that the loss of the familiar is worth the risk — we stand to lose ourselves as we seek ourselves.
The essential question, then, is: How do we cultivate the necessary faith and trust for the curved path ahead? In an ever-changing world defined by rules that change rapidly, in what might we place our faith? Given the vulnerability of the very earth we call home, how can we trust that the ground upon which we stand will endure?
Our answer, one possibility among many, is a sacred prescription for life: Be brave. Take a deep breath in. Breathe it out. Look into the eyes of the next person you see, and imagine that the image of the divine is what they see in yours. Every human connection holds the possibility of deepening our faith in the future, despite its unknown conclusion. Yes, we may be disappointed, but every new friend is a promise; every relationship an investment. Faith in each other is the way forward. Without that faith, we revert to the lonely state that caused God’s realization: “it is not good for a person to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
Lech lecha is a call to each of us: Begin the journey. Sacred discovery is the way: Go forth together. Encounter loss; encounter birth. Be the individual you are and that you are meant to be. Unfold. Share your intense self, that holy spark, with another, and then another, until the light emanating from every soul illuminates the world.
God tells Abram (Abraham’s name before the establishment of the covenant) to trust, to set out. Within us is enormous potential, waiting to be shared, waiting to infuse an uncertain future with unknown blessings. Even in those moments that hold us still, whether we are scared or at peace, the inner vibration of the human soul invites us forward. With no covenant established yet, Abram displays the quality of someone who takes chances. And that first step is what our steps are every time we stop to consider: steps away from the safe and the sure.
Stumbling blocks are rarely celebrated. They appear, sometimes, to obstruct the liberating path paved before us — especially if we see them as temporary barriers. The bumpiest road might also be the most potentially redemptive. Please go forth and share your goodness.