Have you ever endured an extended period of turmoil or put up with a problem that wouldn’t go away? While you’re in the midst of the struggle, everything seems to narrow and your focus is only on your situation.
Fortunately, bad times tend not to last forever. There comes a point when the struggle subsides and we can simply be – at peace again. Once again, we notice the world around us; becoming aware of the leaves blowing in the wind, the singing of the birds in the morning, and the subtle angles of the sunlight. We awake and find ourselves free to once again reengage genuinely with others.
I think this sense of awakening is a significant part of the meaning of Sinai – at least for us, today.
The ancient Jews tell the story of their enslavement in Egypt, their dazzling liberation at the Exodus, and then their dazed wandering in the wilderness. The story of Sinai – the next great mythic event of the narrative – marks the awakening of the Jewish people after a long struggle. At the base of the mountain, our ancestors catch their breath, attune to nature around them and their own nature. They wake up to the voice of God and being (perhaps one in the same voice?)
Entering the Covenant requires awareness – of the nature of the world, of our own nature, and the glimpses of the meaning of our lives.
At Sinai, it all came together, at least for a moment, for our spiritual ancestors. And even today, we, too, have our moments when life seems to make sense, when we find the world good, and when everything is sweet.What truths did the ancient Jews awaken to?
- That God is one and that everything (and everyone) is interconnected.
- That human beings possess an inherent dignity and corresponding rights and responsibilities.
- That the way of life is the way of love and justice.
- That one can have peace, even in the struggle.
At Sinai, reality spoke and said, “Ayeka” where are you? And the Jews answered in unison, “Hinini”, here I am.
Sinai’s meaning is deeply entwined with the meaning of awakening, enlightenment, and knowledge of the truth about ourselves and the world around us.
We are startled by the voice coming from nature that shouts, “where are you?” and we awaken at the sound and respond, “here I am”, finding ourselves, our basic orientation, and seeing the contours of the path that truth asks us to walk.
In this sense, Sinai is an event open to anyone. The world and our lives call out to us – where are you? Who are you? What are you about? And upon hearing the voice, we wake up, find ourselves, and answer, “here I am.”
Thoughts? Comments? Disagreements? I welcome your input and ideas.