Many traditions teach the power of Divine protection. Ancient practices from many corners of the world included elaborate ceremonies with herbs, fire, smoke and dancing to “pray protection” on their people.
Better known to many today is one ancient act of protection that was noted in the story of the Hebrews in captivity in Egypt: the story of the Passover.
You may (or may not!) recall the story of the Hebrew captivity. Outside of the biblical realm, history has documented centuries of the enslavement of some groups of people by others. It is therefore not in dispute that the Hebrew people were slaves in the land of Egypt. It is also historically accurate that in situations where there were “strangers in strange lands“, the religions and traditions of the enslaved often clashed with that of their captors.
While all this is wonderful biblical lore and cultural literacy for the Western tradition: what relevance does this have today?
I come from the perspective that all ancient wisdom texts – biblical included – are not so much historical records as they are wisdom lessons. While the external world has changed substantively over the millennia, the spiritual Truths – documented in all of these texts across cultures and geography – ring true today if we will take the time to read critically, and ponder their wisdom. Let’s look at one today – in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – that has a lot to teach us.
It’s not lost on me that the celebration of the Passover is upon us (coming soon!) just as we all hunker down in our homes to avoid the Coronavirus. In the story of the Exodus from Egypt, you may remember that in their bid to be freed from slavery in Egypt, the Hebrew people turned to their God, who decided to send 10 plagues to be visited upon Egypt.
The LAST plague targeted the first born sons of the land. It had its intended impact – the next morning the Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to take their people and get out!
Metaphysically, we look at these stories not as history (although there is some historical accuracy to many of the Hebrew scriptures), but as allegory – a teaching story. Let’s examine this one.
The plague on the first born son is a direct attack on succession of power. In traditional households, the oldest son is often looked to as the rightful heir of the family wealth and power. As gender roles evolved this has loosened somewhat in modern families but the position of the first born still has a default role in many families.
It was the POWER structure in Egypt that kept the Hebrew people enslaved. This final and most terrible plague was directed intentionally at this point to send a message, and create disruption.
In the scriptural canon, Yahweh sends the angel of darkness to sweep over the land and take the breath of life away from every first born in the land. For the Hebrews living in this same land, there had to be an option for them to be spared from this awful act; and of course, there was.
22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. Exodus 12
The Hebrew households were specifically instructed to paint the blood of a sacrificed lamb on the doorposts and lintel (overhead door post) so that the angel of darkness and death would “pass over” the house – thereby sparing the first born.
If we look at this from the metaphysical perspective, the sacrifice and blood painted on the doors are intentional actions taken by those in covenant with the God of Israel. We don’t do a lot of that today, but we do make “covenants” with teachings and traditions in which we believe.
So what does this mean to us today?
Facing challenges is a part of life. Each of us deals with these challenges in our own way, and often in at least some of the ways that we were taught by our families. This wisdom lesson from the Hebrew scriptures teaches that when we “paint the doorway of our homes” with the Truth, we are protected from the “plagues” of life.
As I write this, the COVID-19 scourge is sweeping the nation and fear is rampant. How can we inscribe divine protection across our homes and lives to safeguard ourselves and those that we love?
We can strengthen our daily spiritual practice, whether that be meditation, music, creative activities (art), prayer – whatever you do; keep doing it!
We can follow the advice of public health professionals, and clean up our thoughts. The news media is CRAZY with negativity and scary statistics. It also passes on some good advice for staying healthy. We need to make sure we’re not overdosing on the negativity OR refusing to heed the good advice.
The vast majority of people exposed to the Coronavirus will recover. The fatality rate is lower than initially projected and while people have died, and will continue to die from this disease; it does not appear to be the Bubonic plague or even the Spanish flu.
As spiritual people, we can “paint the doorposts of our homes” by immersing ourselves in our spiritual traditions, and remember that we are never alone – no matter what passes through our experience.
We can support others who are frightened, or facing economic perils from this situation. We can know the Truth or pray for those who are in harm’s way, or who fall ill. We can take steps that are helpful to our physical health: get enough sleep, wash our hands, practice social distancing, and eat whole and healthy foods.
The other lesson from this biblical story is that of the cost of freedom. The Hebrew slaves wanted to be freed from Egyptian control. The plagues were sent to aid in their quest. What “freedom” are we seeking – collectively and as individuals – that this circumstance may clear the way for us to find?
The answer to this question is likely as many and varied as the traditions who ponder the story. Here are just a few to consider:
While many businesses are being disrupted, this “plague” is forcing options on employers that many had resisted for some time. It is inserting a forced flexibility into some areas that was not possible before. It is opening the doorway to major transformations of old business models and some may argue that it a BAD thing; but I would suggest that perhaps it’s time for a new age – a new way of doing MANY of the things that have not changed for decades or longer.
Like the 10th plague and its impact on the power structure in ancient Egypt, the pandemic is opening a doorway for true leaders to emerge. There are “formal leaders” – those who are anointed by the government or other organizations, and who hold titles; and there are what is known in management theory as “informal leaders“. These informal leaders are people who step up and lead by their actions – regardless of title or pay. We are seeing this play out on the news daily, and it is happening in organizations large and small across the globe.
As a culture, we are being held accountable to the way we spend our time and money. How many of us shop for entertainment? Malls, shopping complexes and more have been built over the past century to provide “spendertainment” to the masses. Perhaps, just perhaps, this global reset will cause more of us to take a walk outdoors instead of going to the Mall.
I can report from my own small circle that the incessant running around by the average family has ground to a halt – and no one is complaining about that!
Yes, these are scary times; and there will be unfortunate and upsetting outcomes in some corners. This does NOT mean that we need to descend into fear and panic.
This is a call to remember who we are, and reconnect with how to Be in the world. It is a time to return to simple Truths, and our true essence (spiritual Beings having a physical experience). We are, indeed, beloved children of the Most High; under whose wings we find shelter and protection.
So let us paint the doorposts of our homes with the knowing that the Infinite is – and always has been – our shield and rampart. We, and all whom we love and cherish are lifted high on a rock in times of trouble.
I know and accept this for myself, and for each of you. And so it is.
(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path