pronouns: they, them, their

The Fear and Desire of Being Seen


Rev. Chani Getter

March 9, 2020

A Purim Reflection

I personally have always had a hard time with the celebration and the Holiday of Purim. To start, I never enjoyed going around all over town delivering Mishloach Manos (baskets of food to others), the drinking, or the drunk drivers on the road. The story itself is a violent one. A man kills his wife because she refuses to put on a show for his friends. He selects a new wife who has no choice but to marry him. One group of people blame another group for the problems of the time, leading to a civil war, where the people kill each other in order to stay alive.

The more I thought about writing a Purim reflection this year, the more I simply wanted to pretend that this holiday did not exist and let it pass unacknowledged. Then, I realized that there is more to the Purim story: the story of revealing oneself, the story of coming out, the story of being seen and the story of witnessing.

In the Purim story, Mordechai asks Esther to tell Achashverosh (Xerxes)  who she is, what her ancestry is, what her nationality is, and who her people are. Esther responds by coming up with a valid excuse. She says: ”Everyone knows that if you come before the king when he hasn’t invited you then you can be killed, and he hasn’t called me in 30 days.” She literally says “everyone knows”. It is common knowledge how dangerous it to show up, to be one’s true self, to come before another uninvited. It is terrifying. 

I have noticed over the years that many of us live in loneliness, that there is a deep desire for relationship, and a deep yearning for connection. So many of us have this deep craving to be seen, to be understood, and to be accepted. Yet, many of us feel that we are going to die if we show our partner, our parents, our children, our siblings, our friends, or even our co-workers who we truly are.  

How often do we come up with stories or excuses some even seemingly valid to create divisions between our loved ones and us? We would rather be lonely than vulnerable. We would rather yearn than express our truth. We would rather be invisible than to tell the story of where we come from, and display the hurt that has shaped us. Because being in relationship means exposing our wounds and risking them being re-opened.

I bless us all with the courage of Esther, to come out, to show ourselves, our full self, not just the nice things, but also where we come from, our histories, our vulnerabilities the things we would rather forget, the things that have shaped us. By doing that we give ourselves the possibility of being seen, being understood, being witnessed and most of all, perhaps even feeling connected.

Many Blessings

This year Purim is celebrated tonight, Monday evening, March 9th thru Tuesday evening March 10th. In some cities (such as Jerusalem) it is celebrated on Tuesday evening March 10th thru Wednesday evening March 11th

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