Pesach/Passover. Lent. Easter. Women’s History Month. If there is one of these “events” that makes me cringe, it’s Women’s History Month. If February is Black History and March is Women’s history, what are the other 10 months? My somewhat crass response is: “Well, the other months are clearly “White” and “men’s” history! If Passover is about liberation, then please let us be liberated from a world where we have to separate and segregate in order to make “sense” of things. For me, spirituality is about integration, about bringing together the broken pieces of our beings. And with our children, my hope is to expose them to a religion that helps them heal, rather than breaks them further.
In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayim (מצרים). According to the text on Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, the name is derived from m’tzarim, meaning “narrow straits” (mi, “from,” tzar, “narrow” or “tight”). When God took the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim, God extricated the people from the place of constricted opportunities, tight control, and narrow-mindedness.
Things like Women’s History Month are a reminder to me of the narrowness of much of our world. Rather than teaching history where all kinds of people from all kinds of places are being taught about the entire year, we fit certain stories into narrow places, narrow months.
Part of how I understand the Catholic practice of Lent is that by giving something up that we are so used to, so dependent on, helps us realize the gifts and blessings of our lives—helps us get in touch with abundance that we can easily take for granted. Liberal Lenten practices can help us to leave behind Mitzrayim and step into a period of renewal and rebirth.
And, if you want some help leaving the Mitzrayim of your life, let me tell you—our children are the perfect teachers.