Jewish holidays affect me – my life seems to sync up with them even if I’m not paying too much attention to the calendar. Right now people are celebrating Passover as well as Easter all over the world. What does that mean for me personally, and why would anyone other than me care? Bear with me – I believe my experience is a universal one so I’m hoping others will benefit from hearing what I’m going through.
As we know, Passover celebrates the Jews’ escape from Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, also means narrow spaces. That means on a metaphorical level, Passover can also represent the liberation from narrow spaces. In addition to a past event, Passover can also be deeply personal and individual. For many years, that’s precisely how I experienced Passover. The regular occurrence is interesting. Like clockwork, at this time of year, life feels narrow. Not only feels narrow, but is narrow. There are many things I choose not to do because the consequence of doing them is too great. There are many foods I choose not to eat because eating them causes my body to hurt. I’m not throwing myself a pity party, I’m merely stating facts.
Always at Passover I fall into a bit of a funk and chafe against restriction. Life is not pleasant during Passover. It’s often trying and painful and dark. I’m not saying it’s as bad as a refugee fleeing for her life, but everything is relative. Everything is in degrees. I experience a small taste of what my ancestors went through and what many people still go through. However, Passover is not all bad. It’s not all plagues and sorrow. It’s also joy. It’s recognizing the deep, the dark, the painful, the narrow, and the relief that comes from no longer being in that space. It’s the thrill of leaving it all behind and being able to roam free. It’s not only Passover that celebrates renewal, but obviously Easter too. Christians also celebrate new life and resurrection at this time of year.
Passover and Easter are reminders of all the horrible things people have been through and their transition out of those things. Passover and Easter are holidays that celebrate hope and courage without omitting the pain. I’m not on the other side of my personal Mitzrayim yet, but I know I will reach the promised land, so to speak. I also take heart in a quote from my spiritual teacher who said, “Difficulties can never be greater than your capacity to solve them.” I truly believe that. Right now my difficulties feel insurmountable, but the holidays many of us are celebrating remind me that’s not true. The holidays remind me it can take a while, a long, long while, but eventually liberation happens.
I dream of a world where we remember no matter what we’re going through, eventually it will pass. A world where we remember we, too, will be liberated from our narrow spaces. A world where we take heart in stories from the past and use them as fuel for the future.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.