I am tired. Lately, I feel deeply out of my depth when trying but failing to make sense of so much of the happenings around me. I understand nothing. My breath is raspy…..I barely have words to express the breadth of my weariness…..The answers elude me…..
In a serendipitous moment of nostalgia and broken spirit, I chanced upon the movie “Same Kind of Different as Me” based on the inspirational true story of art dealer Ron Hall and his wife Debbie, who has a heart larger than life and dreams of creating a home for the homeless.
Debbie’s valiant efforts create social change in an unimaginable way. I suggest you watch the movie – I guarantee it will move and inspire you. So, without giving away the story and deep message, I want to share with you one of the poignant statements that remained with me for many hours after I watched the movie: “…..whether we is rich, or whether we is poor, we is all homeless, just working to find our way home…..”
This week, a sweet friend reminded me that we live in an earthly dimension that has fallen far from grace. I don’t really know what that technically means, I don’t think it can be scientifically proven, but I believe that my soul understands, for when she said it, I involuntarily shuddered and tears sprang to my eyes. And then she continued, “…..but, Riv, some of us feel so much more and struggle in a much greater way…..we are deeply bothered by the state of the Universe…..perhaps because we are closer to the place of grace…..”
Discussions like these and other personal life experiences have recently caused me to ponder the extent to which we can expand our own consciousness and states of being. Like an elastic rubber band, perhaps we can infinitely expand…..and yet, like an elastic rubber band, too much expansion, particularly under states of extreme stress and pressure, can also cause us to snap and/or at the very least, lose our elasticity and ability to rebound. So, for how long can we really remain in a state of fallen grace, struggle, or hardship, until we simply snap, or fail to bounce back from the trials and tribulations? And, what is the proportion of expansion that is harmonious with our life experiences? Is there a point where too much expansion, or the quest for perfected evolution can actually be our undoing? And, how do we return to grace or stretch closer to a more redemptive state? I don’t have the answers to these philosophical life musings. But, in this instance, science may be able to shed some light on some of these questions.
Many years ago, I conducted a physics laboratory experiment as part of my High School Matriculation (VCE), where I tested the elasticity displacement (X) of elastic rubber bands under different temperatures, using various weights (F) through a pulley mechanism, in order to determine the elastic constant of k. In elementary mechanics, the elasticity of a rubber band is expressed by Hooke’s Law which states that the amount a rubber band is stretched or compressed beyond its relaxed length is proportional to the force acting on it. Hooke’s Law therefore implies that strain is a linear function of stress F=kX. Little did I know then that my High School science experiment was really a life lesson, installed then to teach me something vital in the future, for maybe life is simply analogous to Hooke’s Law. If we were to apply Hooke’s Law to life – F are the life stressors, the struggles, the celebrations, the good times, the bad times, in short, all of our daily life experiences; X are the distances we displace – that is, evolve, stretch, compress and expand in proportion to, and as a result of, these daily life experiences – both positively and negatively. So then what is the life constant of k that determines the healthy proportion (experience:expansion) and maintains the harmony and balance.
Here is where the Bible sheds some light. We are currently reading the weekly Bible portions relating to the Redemption from Egypt, led by the great leader Moses. Moses is commanded to lead the People to Redemption by using his voice to speak to the People, and to speak to Pharaoh to demand “Let My People Go!” Ironically, Moses who is self-conscious about his ability to use his voice, and describes himself as having a speech impediment (Exodus 4:10), is specifically commanded to use his voice as a key factor in heralding in the Redemption and ending the Egyptian Exile (see further discussion of the Netziv in HaEmek Davar, Exodus 3:18).
The enslaved and exiled People are fatigued, drained, and broken with “shortness of breath” and lacking in spirit (Exodus 6:9). G-d commands Moses to use his voice, for it is specifically and only Moses’ vulnerable, imperfect, broken and humble voice that can arouse the People to rebound from their homeless states to claim their redemption with renewed life in their Homeland. The Bible’s message in relating this story about the voice of Moses is clear. The redemptive state of a People, or of an individual person does not come about through perfect expansion and wholesome evolution. It is specifically through the broken that we are blessed; through the vulnerable reality of who we are that we live; through the acceptance of the imperfect that we grow; through the chaos that we are saved; and through the madness that we can bounce back and greet another day, every day, in spite of the unknown forces applied through the myriad of our life’s experiences, and their respective effects on us.
My dear Readers, like the cry of the broken voice at childbirth, the life constant of k for the life analogy of F=kX, forever leading us to renewal, rebirth, and redemption, is what I believe to be the acceptance and rising of the vulnerable voice that is raspy, shaky, insecure and imperfect, that constantly and continuously whispers “you are alive…..” That despite all of the forces for or against us, and irrespective of all of the displacement, expansion, compression, or even being stretched to our wits end – we can always rebound, we are forever redeemed, and we are eternally on the path to find our way back to grace – to find our way back home. To coming home – with life, grace, & the voice of redemption, Until next time, Riv