Sunday, April 20, 2008
Leaving the Narrows
Last night we celebrated the beginning of Passover. During the Seder, we recall the story of Exodus--as the Jews fled Egypt, (where they were slaves) and travelled for 40 years, carrying journey bread, or Matzoh on their backs, until they reached what is now "Israel"--the land of milk and honey. The Hebrew word for Egypt is "Mizrayim" which is also the word for narrow places (loosely translated, I think). And so I considered all of the ways in which parties in conflict are in their own "narrows"--with walls to the left and to the right and only a glimmer of light between them. The challenge for the mediator is to guide the parties out of their personal narrow places and into a new state. It is the guidance from slavery or tyranny or debt to sweetness and hopefulness and freedom. With freedom, of course, comes a heavy responsibility. It is our challenge to inspire parties caught between only two choices (as in slave holders or slaves) to freedom fighters who, by their own might and imagination dare to visualize a different future and take that chance to achieve it. There are so many profound messages in the Passover story, but for now I wish to merely challenge my readers to dare to imagine a different choice than the obvious. Only then can we hope to transcend our own narrow places!