At Passover Seder we say, “We were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt and God brought us out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” We say, “it’s incumbent on each of us to see ourselves as if we ourselves had been freed from slavery.” How can we authentically say those things if we don’t feel that it’s possible to become free? The Slonimer rebbe taught that the journey to freedom began with a cry: a groan, a sigh, the expressed agony of the constricted heart. The first step toward freedom is naming what is, and sometimes “what is” is terrible… and can’t be changed.
For me, the next step is sitting in the tension between lived reality, with all of its pain and grief and constriction, and the promise of the Passover story that tells us liberation is possible. Inhabit the both/and: this terrible reality is real, and the possibility of liberation is real, too.
I think “liberation” has to mean something more like: finding expansiveness even within the narrow straits. As we sing in psalm 118:5, “From the narrow straits I called to You, God; You answered me with Your expansiveness.”
~ Rachel Barenblatt
So we come around to another Passover season, which begins this Saturday at sunset. The old story remains the same, but our experiences of constriction and expansiveness have changed in recent months. Every journey, every movement toward growth begins exactly where we are, both confined and free.
Where are you today on the road between
confinement and liberation?
Where do you look for the expansive beauty that some call God?