Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Netzakh ShebeKhesed Eternity, Endurance, Forever, Splendor, Perpetuity within Lovingkindness, Grace, Compassion, Benevolence, Loyalty; a quality central to Jewish ethics.
Quality: Hineni: I am here
This date often falls close to the anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to being one of the great orators of our time, similar to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dr. King was a prophetic voice whose assessments, visions, and willingness to voice to injustice continue to speak to our time.
The night before his assassination, Dr. King gave a speech now titled “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top.” The Biblical reference is to Moshe whom the Eternal placed on a mountain, allowing Moshe to see the Promised Land he would not enter.
King presents his imagined conversation with the Eternal about visiting places that span our human history with this climax: “…I got into Memphis and some began to… talk about the threats... What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now; because I've been to the mountaintop, and I don't mind. “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And (God's) allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
Much of the analysis of this speech often centers on whether King had a vision that something would happen to him. What gets missed is King’s complete surrender to Life as it is showing up. He’s saying: Threats – bring them on! Difficult days – I’m ready! I want longevity and I’m not concerned!!
Most amazingly, King is saying that “sick white” men are still his “brothers.”
To place it in a Jewish framework, Dr. King is saying “hineini” I’m here Life! He recognizes that there has been a cost, and will always be a cost, for speaking out and organizing people for just causes, and that it is not about cost or reward. It is about saying hineini: I’m here, Life! I’m here. I know I do not control my fate. I can only do what I can do in this moment.
We push and push, trying to control Life, until we awaken to the lie of control – it does not exist. We act or do not act, and the situation or the moment unfolds. We respond to the results with accord, discord or a combination of both. Sometimes, we blanket ourselves with the anxiety of what ifs; allowing our minds to rehearse conversations or situations that may never happen! Anxiety lies. It doesn’t trust the present. It cannot predict the future, and it cherry picks the past.
Our willingness to stand with Life as it presents itself in tough moments, allows us to endure and maintain compassion for ourselves and those with us, regardless of their stance. We know it will not last forever and the reward may not be ours in our lifetime. When we are not in a defensive posture or denying reality, we can be with the unfolding to see the means to creating connection; repair. Or, appropriately say goodbye so that we can move fully into a new moment.
Stand in the now and tend to what is present: beauty, pain, love, ache, joy, meanness, isolation, new connections, excitement, sorrow… welcome what is so, and the welcoming creates the choices and the chores. In this space, we partner with eternity, immortality, perpetuity, splendor, glory and all that is Greater than each of us. In this space we humbly contribute without need for credit or notice.
Be partnership and in partnership, and the rewards will be greater than you could imagine. In this way, we are following Micah’s instruction: “…do justice, love compassionately, and behave modestly with your Eternal One.” (6.8; my translation)
© Sabrina Sojourner 2020