When? ¿Cuándo?


When? The open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible, when will you? It was the great question of any relationship, when? To understand a relationship with any woman born in the Philippine Islands, a Western man in pursuit had better understand, in a culture with infinite poverty, a perspective that he was expected to save the entire family of his Pinay lover.

When? When will you begin to save us? The female perspective. It seems okay to spy from a female perspective on anyone with whom you choose to live. It is all about Homeland security. It is about fear about life …getting, providing security over the long-term. It is the perspective that develops when you carry the capacity to bear life, at the onset of an early age. When you might one day be pregnant.

Expecting. Behold the timing, in the WHEN, with the spirituality of the expectant. Sarah and Hagar. Jealousy, only later. That first born son was somehow expected in an agrarian culture to save Sarah and Abraham? And did you recall how Abraham had traveled to Sodom to fight to save Lot? What did you expect to happen? From out of his Call to leave home, in his quest to discover a new home, what did you expect to happen?

Did you ever keep track of all “the leaving” in the Book of Genesis? In the story of leaving, there was the first time when Abraham with his half-sister, their father and nephew Lot leave home. In the case of Jacob, had there even been a need to go? The only one who never seems to take leave is Isaac.

The Call. There was no mention of any conflict that led to the flight of Abram et al, the first time. God seemed to ask Abram to leave. So Abram and his family give everything up,including a familiarity with the people that they had come to know and trust. And so begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when will You?

Men have bar fights over women. What do women do to fight, except leave? And that had been the solution to the resentment in the house of Rebekah living with Isaac and the God of Abraham over issues of power and birth right. Wasn’t it Rebekah who sent young Jacob away? In a reversal of the role of Abraham….only Abraham had been asked by Sarah to send Ishmael away. In the case of Jacob, had there even been a need to go? But that was the female defense?

To allow Someone to rule over you, for peace, after listening to a leader speak of socializing losses after privatizing gains, for all of his family, Terah seemed to have listened to his son. About leaving. With a focus on a Promise Land, but for what? So after sacrificing a home, the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible is, “when will You?” Is the female perspective any different than with an expectation in the Philippine Islands? With a perspective, in a culture with handmaids and slaves, that a male spouse is expected to save the entire family, in a relationship. But with these new nomads?

Note the long wait …for Sarah … for all the barren women in the story of Firsts, recorded in the Book of Genesis. Yes, The Call is to KNOW. Abram is to leave, in his FIRST great sacrifice in the Book of Genesis, the story of FIRST times. Note all the characters who then take leave, following the example of Abram. And so begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when? It is in the journey that Abraham comes to open up his heart as he comes to know God. The stories in the Book of Genesis, in the beginning of, is about coming to know God, in the long wait. After all the splitting, all the separation, all the halves. And so the first sacrifice. To save us, the displaced? And thus begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when? In a story about hope and love …. when a Messiah? Because at some point like Abram, and Isaac and Jacob – and all the great women of their lives – we lose our innocence. So was it an embarrassing question to ask, ‘had there ever been a need to go, to come to know God?’

When? When will you ever sacrifice? When you first give up your homeland, like Sarai, like Abram …. in the first great sacrifice. And wasn’t that what happened when the servant of Abraham went looking to arrange a wife for Isaac, after The Akedah? From out of the Call to LEAVE home, behold Rebekah’s Call! For those who never really tried to read these days what were viewed now as “patriarchal” stories in the Hebrew Bible, there was the same role in the life of Rebekah as had existed in the life of Abram and Sarai, with always the ongoing stories connected to servants and handmaids. . . and the displaced. From out of her Call to leave, before the name change which came to mean something, maybe like when a woman used to take on her husband’s name. In the Old world.

Will you ever sacrifice? Will You ever begin to save us? When? Where? How? When will you personally deliver God to your Promise Land? From out of The Call to KNOW – that ends before Sarah ever dies, in sacrifice of her only son – comes the recognized expectation to save. After Isaac is saved. And if you read the Qoran, the same thing had happened to Abraham’s first born son. Unlike Ishmael, Isaac never physically leaves…perhaps because his faith is so shaken . . . as he is saved from Abraham’s image of God [and consequently the chief servant is sent to determine the future for Isaac as he selects his wife, as so much of the saving in Abraham’s life is determined by handmaids and servants].  And so the WHEN question, as the male standard is to never leave, again, but to love and to serve.  For a while.  In what is called the ‘daily double’ at the race track, ‘to love and to serve’ is what one woman can only do to fight, as the solution to the resentment in the house of Laban, where a man cannot open up his heart to love and to serve just One — but considers taking leave?

Burren 4

 


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Larry Gillick, S.J.

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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    W-H-E-N? When? Hear the echo of the question of a Syrian woman?


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