Passover invites us to leave the narrow places in our lives which constrain us from being fully alive. The familiar Passover story of freedom and liberation is received differently in each season of my life. I experience the gift of Passover with new eyes each time I share the meal with friends. Imagine becoming free of a narrow vision of yourself. Not simply “freedom from”, but, “freedom to become”.
Many Jewish mystics have taught that the Exodus story of liberation from Egypt is freedom from a narrow consciousness. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “narrow” or “constrained”. So our own personal Mitzrayim is a metaphor for becoming free of a small vision of self.
It is like that friend who, whenever we are in a restaurant, turns his head to look at the meals being delivered to neighboring tables. He usually says, “I should have ordered that!” as he points to the meal that someone else has ordered. Much of his life is lived that way, unaware of the self-fulfilling enclosures he has built around his life. How often do we live in a constrained or narrow place, denying the freedom of our own voice, imagination and purpose?
We’re each constrained by different things. A man I worked with recently yearend to become more fully alive. William knew what enlivened him. He could even imagine himself using his skills, voice and imagination in becoming free to experience a fuller vision of his life and work. He’d sought comfort in a weekly activity that he said gave him “fuel for the week”. “Fuel” to keep plugging away at the work he was competent to do, but which kept him in a narrow, constrained place.
Often the first step in the Passover gift of freedom is naming that which diminishes the vision we have of ourselves. For William this naming was one of the most difficult things he’d ever done. He found courage and enough love of himself to practice mindfulness. A journey began to become mindfully present to his life and new consciousness about himself.
The Jewish mystics teach that freedom from a narrow vision of self has a goal larger than our own self! It is the gift of connecting with a truth larger than ourselves. Our own “freedom to become” is fully alive when we honor that same truth in others and even the Universe itself.
It is no wonder Passover is not observed alone, but around a table with others! At the table the story told and the questions asked, invite us to locate our personal story of moving from a narrow consciousness in the larger story of freedom. “Freedom from” is easy to imagine. “Freedom to become” is where we discover becoming fully alive.
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