As people all over the world celebrate, or recently celebrated Passover and Easter, I think about how both of those stories have never felt more relevant. To jog your memory, Passover is the story of Moses, the burning bush, and the 10 commandments. What I want to focus on in this post is the part where Moses commanded the Egyptian Pharaoh of the time to let the enslaved Jews go free and the Pharaoh refused. As retribution, God delivered 10 plagues. I’m not going to relay the whole story (you can read the rest here), but if I had to sum up the story of Passover, it’s about escaping plagues and seeking freedom.
It’s interesting to me the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, also means narrow spaces. I find that especially symbolic right now as we’re all in this global pandemic and under quarantine. We’re in a tight, narrow space, but Passover is the story of moving through that, of fleeing into freedom.
Easter has a similar story of freedom. The way I’ve heard author Glennon Doyle characterize Easter is it’s a story of pain (i.e., the crucifixion), then the waiting (when Jesus was in a cave), and then the rising (when he resurrected). We are collectively in the waiting place, waiting for the rising, metaphorically speaking. We’re also collectively in the tight, narrow space, as we are besieged by the COVID-19 plague.
These holidays remind us of the deep, dark, painful things that happen to us in life, sometimes personally and sometimes in society, as well as the relief from no longer being there. These holidays celebrate the thrill of leaving those narrow spaces behind and being able to roam free. Passover and Easter are holidays that celebrate hope and courage without omitting the pain. We will eventually reach the promised land, so to speak, not without cost, but it will come.
I also think about a quote I repeat regularly from my spiritual teacher who said, “Difficulties can never be greater than your capacity to solve them.” Right now our difficulties may feel insurmountable, but the holidays many of us are celebrating remind us that’s not true. The holidays remind us it can take a while, a long, long while, but eventually liberation happens.
It’s premature to celebrate just yet, but I know it’s coming. That little bit of hope is what keeps me going. I want to know what’s on the other side of all this. Don’t you? How will I be changed and how will society be changed? Right now we don’t know yet because we’re in the middle of the story, but oh my goodness, I can’t wait to find out what’s next.
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 at some point. 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.