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 Writing Scripts of Hope

 Writing Scripts of Hope

People often say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” or “God only sends us what we can handle.” I believe these related sentiments are almost entirely untrue. Certain challenges do strengthen us and teach us how to handle adversity. And I suppose by definition anything we survive we can handle. And yet, I believe losses and challenges wound us deeply.

Sometimes being hurt or abused marks us in ways that scar us and change us for the worse.
These traumas can survive multi-generationally. This is what Exodus means when it says the sins of the parents can fall upon the children. We are marked and hurt by the trials and abuses we experience in life. They teach us harmful scripts that we reenact again and again to shelter ourselves from an unresolved loss or an abuse from which we never truly healed. We act out our hurt and perpetuate that from which we should be healed.

In this time of comfort that leads us to Rosh Hashanah, we read sections from Isaiah each week that are filled with hope and love. Isaiah reminds us: you are hurt. You may feel broken. In such moments, it is easy to give into despair and allow the pain to mark us. Further, as we fail to resolve or heal from our pain, we act out against others and spread the pain further.
Isaiah comes to tell us there is a different path. It is a path that starts in hope. It is a hope that the world can be better. It is a hope that I can be better. That hope is unlike a prediction. Isaiah cannot promise we will heal all on our own. He would not tell us that our traumas and losses will resolve themselves as a kind of miracle.

Rather, Isaiah is saying: hope means that together with one another and God, healing is a possibility. Hope means there is a chance, not a certainty, of healing and love. Hope is an invitation to change and in changing invite a more all global change. God promises us mercy and compassion. The word Isaiah uses is rachamim, which comes from the root rechem meaning womb. We are promised the love and compassion of a mother for her child. We are promised an everlasting well spring, renewed daily by God, open to us when we hope.

Hope invites possibility. Perhaps I can be healed. Perhaps I have the inner resources and strength to write a new script that brings goodness to my family and community, even to a thousand generations. I cannot be certain, but I know that if I set out, I will encounter this all-encompassing compassion and love. Though nothing is certain, I know that once I find the courage to take the first step, everything becomes possible.

This is the value of a community like ours. There are moments when I can be the source of hope that enables God’s love and mercy to flow into the world. At other times I need you to be that source of hope so I can remember that things can change, that healing is possible, that love does exist. We cannot do it alone. We need each other and God.

May this season of the holidays bring you comfort and love and restore you to a posture of hope, a posture in which you see all that is broken in yourself and in the world and realize that perhaps, maybe, all this can be healed.

Shabbat Shalom
 Rabbi David Booth

Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784