March 6: Remember, but don’t turn back
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In 2007-08, I spent a little over a year journeying the Exodus with my husband Wes and our own adopted hija (daughter). Older than both of us combined, Eliana had spent 40 years and more in her own “Egypts,” and bore the scars (visible and invisible) of a lifetime of slavery, prostitution and addiction. My husband’s and my Egypts were far less literal and far more of our own making, but still … we all needed this Exodus.
Every Tuesday morning we would huddle over coffee and Bibles, around the little table in our cold, high-altitude kitchen in El Alto, Bolivia. We were each other’s Moses, Miriams and midwives, in turn. We suffered our way through, prayed for the plagues to Passover, and attempted faith in a God who hears. We held our breath and danced with joy and relief. In the days in between, we whined and complained and threatened to go back. We witnessed miracles and promptly forgot them. We disregarded Jethro’s warnings and wore ourselves out. We lingered at the foothills of the mountain and waited for a Holy Word. And here, at chapter 20, we found ourselves, along with Israel, an amnesic, bi-polar, attachment-disordered, PTSD-ridden, Stockholm-Syndrome-soaked bunch, whom God was offering a new order.
Remember … but don’t turn back.
Some of us who’ve only ever known the framed, calligraphied, proof-texted “Thou-Shalt-Nots,” shrink from this law. But for those who have known the weight of their own slavery, the blood and mortar of Egypt, this new order is a welcome word – its own overturned table – an anti-Egypt; a new rule of identity, freedom, memory, rest and peace. In it, we are protected and named people of honor and nonviolence, truth, fidelity and contentment.
Hear, O Israel …