I’ve told this story to a few people this week so perhaps it’s also worth sharing here. During the Holocaust, my maternal grandmother bribed a farmer to hide her in his potato cellar. When the money ran out, he evicted her. She wandered through the woods half-starved and came across a young boy. Scared he would alert others to her presence, she threatened him but she wasn’t all that intimidating as she looked bedraggled and emaciated.
After the incident, she slid into hopelessness and no longer cared whether she lived or died. She’d already suffered so much and couldn’t take anymore. She spotted an encampment and decided to walk into it whether it was the Nazis or not.
It wasn’t the Nazis, it was the Russians so she was saved. Growing up when I heard that story, I marveled at the “happy accident,” of my grandmother’s “luck.” But recently I started to reframe what happened. What if it wasn’t an accident? What if it was intentional? What if my grandma was led to safety by guardian angels or water spirits or her intuition or some other benevolent force?
My spiritual teacher says, “There is no such thing such as an accident – everything is an incident. When an action is materialized within a very short time, or when the root cause of the action is not known to us, we are just seeing the reaction, the incident. When the cause, the causal side of the incident is not known to us, or when the causal side is translated into action in a very short time, we say it is an accident. But actually, nothing is accidental, everything is incidental.”
What about car accidents? And stubbing your toe? The cause could be very simple – someone ran a red light. Or you weren’t looking where you were going. But also sometimes, the cause is deeper and more meaningful than that (I think). I’d like to believe my grandmother walked into a Russian camp because she was meant to live. It wasn’t her time to die yet, so no, it wasn’t an accident.
The reframe is asking me to consider the same about my own life. What if I’m also not alone and instead being led to safety in its myriad forms? It’s clear that I pay attention to divine guidance. I notice when bumblebees land on my window or doves perch on my railing. I listen to the inner stirrings of my gut. Paying attention to divine guidance is what this Passover is about for me, a holiday I’m currently celebrating.
Passover is about the escape from Egypt and as a modern-day Jew, I’m escaping from a metaphorical Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which also means tight spaces or narrow consciousness. This year the narrow consciousness I’m escaping from is the notion I’m wandering around all alone, lost in the woods. That help is out of reach and unavailable.
I’m recognizing I’m not all alone and neither was my grandmother, nor my great-grandmother, nor my great-great-grandmother all the way back to the time of Moses. I, too, am being led from a metaphorical Egypt to a safer, freer, promised land. Even if you’re not Jewish, maybe the same is true for you.
I dream of a world where we remember there are no coincidences, that instead there is always a cause for everything, even if we’re unaware of it. A world where we recognize we aren’t alone. A world where we remember benevolent beings are walking with us, guiding us where we need to go.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.