The portion of Lech Lecha is the last stage of the beginnings we have been experiencing over the last few months.
The week before we read of Noah’s emergence from the Ark after the Flood, when the world was given the chance to begin all over again. And the week before that we read the portion of Bereishit, (Genesis) which speaks of the creation of the world, the ultimate beginning.
The week before that we celebrated Simchat Torah, when we express our joy in completing the yearly reading of the Torah, as well as reading it all over again… from the beginning. And the week before that (after the Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur beginning of the year), we build and sit in our Sukkoth (booths) which begins our relationship with mitzvoth all over again.
And now, we finally arrive at what might be considered the end of the beginning, as Avraham bursts onto the world stage as the first Jew.
How indeed does Avraham’s story begin? God actually tells him it is time for him to go on a journey, and that he must leave his land, his birthplace (hometown) and his family (the house of his father), to a land that He, God, will show him.
It is interesting to note that Avraham is being asked to let go of his past, but he is not really told where he will be going. He is only told to go to a land that I will show you.
Why is Avraham not told where he is going? Does he need to know?
Those of us in recovery have had many beginnings. Just go to any 12-step meeting and you find people who begin again and again. And we don’t really know where we’re going as we get started. The Big Book just instructs us to ‘come to believe’ and ‘make a decision”. But where am I supposed to go? To a land that I will show you?
Can you be more specific? I wish I could. But the one thing I know now, after 10 years in the program, is that no journey is the same. There is no way for me, your sponsor or your new friends in the fellowship to know what your path is going to look like. And for the most part it is a secondary issue.
The command is to “go”. In our lives, the journey is the destination. When you were in school, did you know where it would take you. I knew elementary school would take me to high school. What I didn’t know is what would I do there? From high school I went to college. But the same isn’t true of all the students in my class.
I had my first cigarette in 7th grade. Did I know that in 8th grade I would start to drink alcohol, in 9th marijuana, in 10th and 11th to experiment with other drugs? Maybe if I had known where that journey would take me I wouldn’t make the same choices. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Other people made many of the same choices, they were ok and that is their story.
But it isn’t my story. And it isn’t yours either.
If I turn my will and my life over to the care of a “God of my understanding”, then I will go to a place that God will show me. If I use my will and my life to fight my struggles with my own self will, then I’ll go where my own choices take me. My character defects and my fears will motivate my actions, and I will fall on the sword of my worst instincts. This I already know.
So, we begin again. And we’ll begin again if we must.