Sunday, October 22, 2006

dark caves and pillars of salt

Sunday, October 22, 2006
currently i'm reading wrestling with angels - a jewish interpretation of genesis. amazing. utterly elucidating. glowing with wisdom. the authors of this book have simply cast a bright light on an ancient, divinely inspired writings - revealings its timeless messages. i'd heard many of these stories so many times before. being catholic, of course, i'd never heard the story of dinah. hmmm. funny, that. repression, thy name is deviant.

the tendril of wisdom i wish to impart here in this post relates to the story of lot and his wife leaving sodom. you know the deal - despite the angels telling them on more than one occasion to go forth and not look back - lot and his family delay and delay and then when they finally do leave, lot's wife looks back and then gets turned into a pillar of salt. what happens here, in this story? why the procrastination, despite numerous urges to leave and escape an impending inferno? what, about looking back, causes lot's wife to become the most inert and lifeless substance? perhaps it had to do with her disobedience? NOPE. simply put?

when lot's wife looks back, instead of 'going forth,' she becomes a haunting metaphor for the perils of inertia. her preoccupation with the past literally paralyzes her in the face of danger, freezes her in time ... attachment to material possesions, coupled with denial of evil, can create a fatal blind spot. lot's wife, and the legion of procrastinators who have followed her through history, teach us that we suppress our instinctual flight response at our own peril

the wisdom of lot's story does not end with his wife's demise. oh no. there's more. recall the story of lot in the dark cave? after g-d plucks him away from the brimstone and destruction of sodom, lot makes retreat into a dark cave. somehow, he cannot seem to rescue himself from himself. i see this as a sort of looking back, don't you? extend the wisdom of the story of lot's wife.

can one really go forth while hanging on? NOPE, that's just common sense. symbolically no difference exists between hanging on and looking back - they originate from the same energy of inertia. and so, focussing so much attention and energy on past offences, angst, upheavels - it closes our spirits and psyches off to the possibilities and potential of the present. and ... the future.

image originally uploaded by two crabs

6 comments:

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Hello new friend :)
First, a little about me~
I was brought up in a Christian home. You might call me Southern Baptist- but I'm not like most.
I was raised in non-denominational churches that believed in healing, toungues, prophecy, and many other things that most Baptists frown upon.
I am pretty open minded about such things. I have seen most of the gifts of the Spirit in action and they are hard to deny.

Your "tendril of wisdom" is interesting to me. I think that you don't want to say that Lot's wife is disobedient because disobedience = sin. Rather, you want to say that she was "attached" to material things and denied the evil that was all around her- thus her peril of inertia.
I see your point.

However, she was warned (as you said) by the angels- and she did not obey their warnings. (Sin is an ugly word and I often want to call it something else.)
This woman was not asked to blindly give up her life- God sent 2 angels to instruct her family...she had more "proof" than you or I might ever have- and still she resisted.
I think He (God) went out of His way to give Lots wife reason to trust Him.
And she didn't.
This is, as I see it, where the problem lies. Her attachments, her home life, were of more importance to her than God. Also- Lot was not completely willing to leave the area either and wanted to go to a nearby town (Zoar) which was also supposed to be destroyed. He did not set a great example for his family to follow- and this lack of trust in God would affect his daughters later on in their relationship with their father. They were unable to trust God for husbands.

We completely see eye to eye again in your last paragraph though,
about hanging on, or looking back~

"it closes our spirits and psyches off to the possibilities and potential of the present. and ... the future."
Yes friend, yes. And Lot's wife, had she let go and moved forward in the direction God planned for her- she would have been open to all the possibilities and potential of the future that He had in store for her and her family.

I can identify with this in my own life- with my being hung up with an issue of the past and I know it's time to move on- but moving on means letting go of the "known" and reaching out for the unknown.
But for a person who believes there is a God, and that He cares for me- it's more than foolish for me to not to trust Him- it's actually a form of rebellion. (I'm talking about me here)

Well done- and forgive me for being so long winded :) I appreciate your search- I too am in a place in my life where I am questioning things- but I have mostly been encouraged to ask questions and read material that challenges me.

My views are not as broad as yours- and of course my opinion is worth what you paid for it :)
I submit this reply to you with all due respect- and hope we might have more opportunites to discuss such things in the future~
-Cora/Mayden :)

mantissa said...

mayden,

no worries about long comments. its my pleasure to read them!

i sense that you are in a similar spiritual space as i am ... searching ... wondering ... questioning ... i was raised in a devoutly catholic family - extremely pious and repressive family. it felt restrictive.

and the defensiveness i always received whenever i challenged or asked questions ... well, it just increased my suspicion. i harbour some resentment about that whole institution so forgive me if i express that too forcefully.

i appreciate you reply. i am eager to discuss this sort of stuff with others ... its good for the soul. i have just started reading about judaism and a little of kabbalah.

you know that whenever i do read jewish mysticism, or any rabbinical writings, i have the most vivid and vibrant (wonderfully joyous, too) dreams? (typically i have no recollection of dreams or of even dreaming). mayden, i am inclined to think this is a divine sign that i should continue my quest. maybe that's silly ... but that's what i believe.

about lots wife and the trust issue ... yes i see that. i think that's what i had in mind but did not go far enuf with this post ... i think we are on the same page ...

about looking back - ie getting hung up on a past hurt/issue - i hear you. i see this in myself too. its hard ... like ... surrendering. surrendering the known for the unknown. so true ...

perhaps i have rambled?

kindest regards, my friend.

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Pink :)
I never cared for the Old Testament when I was growing up- it seemed so dry. In my 20's I did a Bible Study called "A Woman's heart, God's dwelling place" by Beth Moore- and it turned my world inside out...

It was then the stories of the OT came to life- I understood things I had never grasped before- the meanings of sacrifice, and blood, the covenant...the history of the Jewish people- became my history too and had a profound impact on me.
When I was 16- I was suicidal. I had an entire bottle of Tylenol in one hand, and across from me on my dresser was a Bible my dad had given me when I was 8.
I saw it- and reached for it. Out loud I said to God- "If you don't speak to me right now- I'm done."
I opened the Scripture and it opened to the book of Deuteronomy-(not known as a book of encouragement!) chap 20, my eyes landed on vs 4.

"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

I felt pretty unworthy- I had done some terribly serious things- and my dad was ready to disown me. Even so- God spoke to me in that verse. He was going to be with me, no matter how deep in the pit I had gotten...no matter how filthy I was- He still loved me, and wanted to give me victory.

Years later, after studying the OT- I discovered what a land mine it is of rules and regulations, and punishements. Had I gone one page further I would have read about parents stoning a disobedient son to death...
Yes- keep looking. Keep asking questions- and read the Bible with fresh eyes- ask for guidance- He will give it to you.
God is very personal to me- and lately I have forgotten that. I've been way to wrapped up in myself.
Writing to you has reminded me...
Thank you~

mantissa said...

i felt similarly about the OT as a child. i found it so dry and distant from me. yet, i do recall listening to the OT readings each and every sunday during mass. looking back, i always totally missed the point of the readings and the sermons completely flew right over my head.

my dad, a convert to catholicism, led a prayer group. i remember sometimes being dragged along. i also saw people speaking in tongue. it was amazing. and frightening. i remember somehow knowing that the gift of tongues was divine. i remember fearing it in the sense of innately sensing its sacredness.

unfortunately, i did not really connect with the religious context of my family because of the disconnect between piety of religion and daily existence. i mean to say that sure my parents talked the talk but did not really walk the walk. its hard to take any religious or spiritual lessons seriously from abusive individuals.

and so i guess for a long time i just threw the baby out with the bath water - having grown so resentful at the blatant hypocrisy i witnessed. how does a celibate man get AIDS? that is just a symptom of the corruption that left a bitter taste in my mouth. and ... well ... lemme put it this way. kenneth lay isn't exactly the person i'd run to for spiritual direction ... so i opted to just ditch the whole deal.

i knew in my heart - deep inside my sacred core - of g-d. i tried a number of times to return to the church. each time hypocrisy and exclusionism turned me off. i feel like i'm missing something with no context in which to place g-d.

i have just purchased a copy of the jewish bible and also a great book about the zohar - an ancient mystical book. i'm reading ... my learning curve is going up.

that's quite the story about deuteronomy ... often in those "Job" times of our lives revelations such as this happen.

g-d is deeply personal for me also. i'm glad we can share in his light together.

:D

Lady Prism said...

time and again I've read this story..heard this story..but never really heard it this way before...Sure I know that she had difficulty leaving Sodom with all that she had there..but the core of which was inertia..and its outcome as a lesson to all this is..another flavor...

you're right..it is a bright light..

mantissa said...

i think that jewish wisdom is the brightest light in humanity.