December 9, 2011
Sfat Shabbat Shalom
So, it's Vayishlach. For those who care or know what that means, I have a tiny somethingorother to say.
Jacob is on his way back to his father's land. When he hears that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men, he hurries to put a plan in action to protect his family and his possessions. He prays and then acts to protect himself. It sounds from the frantic pace that he was in a bit of a panic.
I've been panicked at various times this year; I had a comfortable life and I chose to leave it behind. Now I'm starting over at 29 and sometimes the uncertainty is terrifying. When I act out of panic and cultivate anxiety, I seem to attract even more frustrating circumstances - or maybe it just seems like it because I'm not enjoying whatever is happening.
If Jacob had met Esau in a panic, with suspicion, he might have invited a similarly negative response from his brother. Instead, the angel (or demon, or man, or space alien, or whatever) who wrestled with Jacob wrenched his right thigh out of its socket. (aha! right side of the body = left brain = masculine, aggressive, linear thinking. Necessary? Yes. superhappyfunstuff? Not for me.) Jacob's anxiety wouldn't allow him to yield control and trust the Infinite for the outcome of the situation. So the space angel broke through his shell of panic and Jacob had to yield control.
After that mysterious night, Jacob met Esau with a smiling face and open hand, and all the tension drained from their reunion. Esau traveled on from there in a straight line, an orderly fashion, Jacob went on at the pace of his children and a bunch of baby lambs: ambling, organic movement in non-linear steps that spoke of his newfound trust in the whole process of living in an unpredictable universe.
Later, the text says "V'yavo Ya'akov Shalem," (Gen. 33:18) which can mean either "and Jacob came to [the town of] Shalem" or "and Jacob came [and was] whole." Whole? After being panicked to the breaking point and humbled before his brother? Whole because his need to control his circumstances was gone, the self-protective shell was shattered and he could now accept himself as a small drop in a vast ocean of consciousness and movement.
To me this suggests that my acceptance of my present situation (accept it, change it, or leave it, sez Eckhart Tolle - but don't stay and not accept it), and positive attitude, will invite more positive circumstances to come my way, but my anxious attempts to control a situation only makes it more difficult for me and those around me to enjoy our challenging lives.