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Alrighty Then

Exodus 17: 1- 16

12 However, Moshe’s hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset.

1 Peter 4:7-19

19 So let those who are suffering according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good.

John 16:16- 33

In the world, you have tsuris. But be brave! I have conquered the world!”

I got stuck on the word tsuris. It occurred to me that ‘tsuris’ is roughly equivalent to ‘dukkha’. Both the Yiddish word tsuris, and the Sanskrit word dukkha translate into English as “troubles, aggravation, discontent, suffering.” After a little bit of research to make sure I wasn’t totally off-base, I’m going to run with the idea. I have observed many threads connecting Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; so many that the underlying truths and expressions of understanding appear to me to be exactly the same.

Going back to the first reading, I connected with this story strongly because of my recent ‘tsuris’. I was struck by the fact that Moses had found something to do that was working. He wanted to keep doing it, but he was not strong enough to do it all by himself. So, people stepped up and helped him. It’s a no-brainer that people can be counted on to help their friends, but the real insight is this: Moses got help not because people were thinking about him and wanting to do something nice for him, but because he was doing something that they needed him to do; something that was working to their benefit and so they helped him. When I applied this to my situation, I immediately thought of some counsel that I got which helped me a great deal. A wise person suggested that I figure out what my job was, and then simply ‘do my job.’ I realized that I had been actively seeking out help from people who wouldn’t necessarily be nice to me, but who would help me ‘do my job’. They would ‘hold up my hands’ because they recognized that what I was trying to accomplish had its own intrinsic value. I didn’t want sympathy or pity; I didn’t want someone to waste my time and theirs by telling me “It’ll be okay” and I most definitely did want to carry on doing the thing that was working. The really cool thing was my realization that my friends really do want and need me to keep on doing that thing, and they’ll pitch in and help me when I get tired and discouraged. What that tells me is that down deep we all recognize that same “worthwhile thing,” and our wisdom is measured by how familiar we are with it, and how determined we are to keep on doing it ourselves and helping everyone else to keep on doing it. I realized that this is how I choose my friends: I look for that resolve; that ‘backbone’; that spiritual ‘gumption’. I’ve also come to the realization that I was led by my own wishful thinking to believe that someone had that kind of gumption in spite of all evidence to the contrary, and now I’m paying the price.

I also had the remarkable experience of having a friend (who has no patience at all with organized forms of religion) step up and serve most competently and effectively as my confessor. Not in the ritualized sense of the word, but in the sense that she led me to the place where I had the most room to ‘turn around’ and the best reasons for changing my thinking. What made her into my confessor was her trust that I would indeed turn around and look back at the past; that I would be able to look at things from a different perspective and see clearly how my ideas needed to change. What helped me the most was her matter-of-fact confidence in me; her certainty that I would want to see where I went wrong, and that I would learn from it and go on with a renewed sense of balance and a more suitable outlook.

The other readings fall neatly into line:

When you are suffering for the sake of what is good and true, all you have to do is simply entrust yourself to the Faithful One and carry on doing what you know is good and worthwhile, and be brave.

In this world we’ve got aggravation,

but the One who

conquered the world

by being conquered

gives us every reason to be bold.

When I hear, “Be brave!”

I say, “Alrighty then.”

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By the road that I am walking
they have hidden a snare for me.

Numbers 24: 1-13
“I summoned you to curse my enemies. But here, you have done nothing but bless them — three times already!"

Romans 8: 12-17
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear...

Matthew 22: 15-22

“You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me?

The Way:
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