This morning’s first reading is about Moses and the two most significant women in his life. (EX 2:1-15) Because the Israelite population in Egypt was becoming so large, the new king of Egypt was worried that in time of war, they would join Egypt’s enemies. He thus decreed that all boy babies be thrown in the river and drowned. As a consequence of this decree and the ingenuity of a young Israelite mother, we have the story of Moses found in a basket in the reeds of the riverbank by the Pharaoh’s daughter who saved him and unwittingly gave him back to his own mother to nurse. The creativity of the mother and the desire of Pharaoh’s daughter to save the baby (not to mention the handmaiden who found his own mother to nurse him) made this a story with a happy ending.
Ah, but read on! When Moses grew up and saw the mistreatment of the Hebrews by their taskmasters, he killed one of the Egyptians. Disparaged as well when he tried to intervene between two fighting Hebrews and fearing for his life as the incident with the Egyptian became known, Moses fled to the land of Midian to live in exile. No happy ending there. If we remember the entire life story of Moses (or wait a few days for the next chapter), we come to see this alternation of highs and lows, “blessing and curse” perhaps, repeated throughout his life.
I am very aware, in great and small ways lately, of the fact that this is true in every life. Some of us are spared great tragedy personally, it seems, but the world situations are such in our day that we cannot be inured to the pain and suffering around us. And who is not overwhelmed with grief when a treasured loved one dies? I was at the funeral yesterday of a wonderful man who had been married for 63 years, had fathered five daughters and was beloved by an entire church community. No one in the church would have wanted him to remain in his suffering but letting him go was a deep sorrow for everyone, especially for his loving wife.
The above example illustrates the point of my musings this morning. As we grow in consciousness, we come to understand the flow of life as a single, interwoven thread. Scripture speaks of the dark of night turning to joy in the morning and sometimes it is impossible to separate the two. It is in the joy that the pain is felt and vice versa. I think John Denver captured the meaning well – including the deeper reason for it: ultimately it’s all about love. He sings in me today…
All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain. Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.