Place a tiny seed in the ground and it converts the carbon of the air into a mighty redwood—a decomposing seed awakens the power of the infinite.
Yet another miracle, even more wondrous: A quiet act of kindness buried in humility ignites an explosion of G‑dly light.
Infinite power is hidden in the humblest of places.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Depending on your religious orientation, we are entering a “season of miracles” in a few days. If you’re Christian, then you are certainly looking forward to Holy Week, culminating with the festivities of Easter and the celebration of the risen Christ this coming Sunday. If you’re Jewish, then you are busy preparing your home and your soul for the Passover season, which begins with Erev Shabbat this coming Friday evening.
Or you have another sort of religious tradition that has no holidays at this time of year, or a tradition that contains no wonders or miracles at all.
I haven’t celebrated Easter for many, many years but I usually look forward to Passover. My wife and I haven’t discussed plans for Pesach this year, and there are years when we don’t have a personal Pesach seder in our home. Life gets hectic and my spouse isn’t always up to the challenge of preparing an elaborate meal along with the many other preparations and tasks she performs. I suggested yesterday morning, that my sons and I take a turn this year at preparing the Passover meal, but my daughter (who knows what it all entails) just rolled her eyes (mercifully, my wife wasn’t present when I “shot off my big mouth”).
I’ve been avoiding the obligatory Passover blog posts so far due to the uncertainty of the season and, like corporate fellowship, I may have to admit that there will be no personal Passover for me this year. I suppose because I’m not Jewish that it shouldn’t apply to me anyway, so in that, there is no loss if one less Christian isn’t available to attend a purely Jewish commemoration of freedom from slavery and bonding with God.
While, as Rabbi Freeman says, “infinite power is hidden in the humblest of places,” sometimes only humility is to be found in such places as well. There is a time to rise up, to attempt to exceed your limitations, and strive to touch the hem of the garment of God. There are other times that it’s best to step aside and make room for others to achieve that purpose by making yourself small and still. The latter is what’s best for me.
I used to think that so much time had passed since I initiated this “experiment” that my “alternate path” should be apparent to me by now. However, I realize that only an instant has elapsed and it is my place to sit in the shadows and wait. If there is a “miracle” for me, it will be the silence and the muted shades and the stillness of the abyss as I contemplate my existence and ponder on the wonder of God and His unique, radical Oneness.
And I contemplate my path and consider the fork in the road. I can hardly say that it’s either Judaism or Christianity that presents themselves before me, since my options are not two but rather nearly infinite. Within Christianity, there are a myriad of possibilities, both “formal” and idiosyncratic. Judaism, as an option, really doesn’t present itself to me for the simple reason that I am not Jewish. Yet some part of that voice speaks to me and incorporates itself in the other, more “appropriate” options that I still find available to me. Rabbi Freeman presents the transcendent path of truth as containing two paths, but indeed, it contains so much more.
If you find yourself affixed to a single path to truth—
the path of prayer and praise,
or the path of kindness and love,
or the path of wisdom and meditation,
or any other path of a singular mode
—you are on the wrong path.
Truth is not at the end of a path.
Truth transcends all paths.
Choose a path. But when you must, take the opposite path as well.
But if “truth transcends all paths,” then how do you tell truth from its opposite? If choosing truth means choosing opposite paths, when how can I make a choice? If I can’t make a choice, I can then walk no particular path in seeking God.
That leaves me with an impossible decision and no way to make that decision. How can I choose truth if truth is transcendent but I am only human?
If, for me, there is no Easter and there is no Passover, then my choice is to choose no option. That may be the only choice in relation to truth as well. Is it Jacob’s ladder of prayer that sits in front of me, shimmering faintly in the darkness and taunting me in the twilight, or is it the point at which a billion, billion paths converge all demanding I choose the truth and all demanding I choose all truths?
Hypothetical indecision must give way to practical living. I still must wake up each morning, must acknowledge God as the author of my life, such as it is, must get dressed, go to work, labor, go home, be a husband, and father, and grandfather, and walk all the different paths that my life requires, as my tiny march of days on this earth continues to elapse.
All of Judaism will be reading from the seder in a few days, and in a week, Christianity will turn to the end of the Gospels and the resurrection of Jesus. But I will wait and by the dim light of a candle or my soul (I can’t always tell which), I’ll thumb through the pages of Lamentations:
My transgressions were bound into a yoke;
by his hand they were fastened together;
they were set upon my neck;
he caused my strength to fail;
the Lord gave me into the hands
of those whom I cannot withstand.