There are many steps on the journey to liberation.
This week’s Torah portion captures the final steps on the path to freedom. The Exodus narrative is the most influential story of freedom every told. It has inspired countless social movements – from the American revolution to the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement to the struggles for racial justice and immigrant justice today.
The movement from slavery to freedom does not happen overnight. Liberation happens stage but stage and much like yoga, is it achieved pose by pose – learning and falling and gaining strength, experience, wisdom, and understanding along the way.
The journey to liberation begins by hearing a call for change. Sometimes the call comes from an outer source such as when Moses was called by God’s voice emanating from a burning bush. Sometimes the journey to liberation comes from an inner voice — the “still small voice” inside us. Whether the voice comes from outside or within, we need to stop long enough to listen to it. We need to stop long enough to hear that we need to make changes in our lives.
One of the final plagues, the ninth plague, was that of darkness. It was a palpable shadow cast upon the land, where no Egyptian could see his or her neighbor. Yet the Torah goes on to tell us something strange – that in the midst of all this darkness, l’chol b’nei yisrael, to all the children of Israel, hayah ohr b’moshvotam, there was light in their dwelling. Even in the midst of darkness there is light, there is a way for us to create a brighter future.
The journey to liberation never comes without struggle. Passing through waters takes strength, and faith, perseverance and partnership. Embrace the journey. Do not allow the struggle to defeat you. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King taught “Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.
And then there is the celebration and song. When the Israelites cross through the sea and arrive on freedom’s shore, they sing a song of celebration. Shabbat is about celebrating the here and the now. Shabbat is a time to celebrate not where we need to go but we were are.
Photo by Andrew Haimerl