Passover begins on Saturday. This year, after a year enduring the harsh realities of the Covid-19, Passover has new meaning for me. The innumerable restrictions on our freedoms feel a bit like enslavement under an evil pharaoh. In unison, we lament. We pray to be free.
Passover reminds us that new life is coming. A promised land is ahead. But we still have a way to go. We will undoubtedly roam a bit in the wilderness before finding our way home.
As one of the most important holidays of Jewish faith, Passover commemorates God’s saving grace.
It also coincides with the beginning of the barley season. As such, it shares a common theme with the Spring Equinox and Easter. All three holy days are rooted in renewal, regeneration, and resurrection. New life. New beginnings. And finding our way home.
In the hero’s journey, there are multiple tests and trials leading to one significant death. Slaying a dragon, a dark night of the soul, trapped in the belly of a whale, relinquishing ego identity, or enduring Covid-19 – all are an end to the previous life we’ve known. But once we’ve done this, we still have a way to go.
New life takes time to sprout and grow. Reborn after our metaphorical death, it takes a while to adjust to our new skin, our new way of being. We are still in darkness, squinting to see. We stumble, we crawl, we fall. We move hesitantly and then with confidence, only to trip and be tested again.
Forty years wandering in the desert after escaping Egypt was much like this. Nearly sixty years after the Civil Rights Act was passed is like this too.
The journey to new life, to a new way of being, doesn’t happen instantly.
We still have a long way to go.
We will never be home until we recognize that the home which we left is not the same to which we are returning.
We have changed. (Without change, there is no hero journey.) The promised home, the home where we are headed, is new.
Even if you are not Jewish, I encourage you to pause on Saturday and meditate on what Passover means. For you. For you this year.
Ritual and remembering help us find meaning. They connect us to the past and provide a path to the future.
I was not raised Jewish. There is a good possibility that my mother’s family, two generations before her, were Jews, but I cannot claim this identity. Still, Passover is meaningful for me. And perhaps, this year especially, it may mean something for you too.
On Saturday evening, I will celebrate alone, just as I have spent most of this year alone.
If you feel inclined to recognize this holy day, here are my humble suggestions, completely unorthodox yet rooted in the spirit of this ancient story.
This is not a traditional seder by any means and I hope my Jewish friends will forgive me. But this is a ritual of remembering.
Ritual is intention. Ritual marks the present by remembering the past. Ritual tells a story.
This year is a story worth telling. May this Passover be the beginning of finding our way home.