I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!
~ Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1899
Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Passover commemorates the Biblical story of Exodus — where God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and incorporates themes of springtime, a Jewish homeland, and family, remembrance of Jewish history, social justice and freedom— including recognizing those who are still being oppressed today. As the text of the Hagaddah reminds us, it is not just ancient history that we are re-telling; it is the story of our own lives: “In every generation, each individual should feel personally redeemed from Egypt. For the Eternal One redeemed not only our ancestors; we were redeemed with them.” Dunbar’s words recall the Torah narrative of our ancestors crying to the Almighty with pain and anguish, triggering the beginning of the redemption.
Dearest God, source of all light and love, please help us raise ourselves up with sincerity and truth. We know you hear our cries in the wilderness, our cries of despair, our cries for mercy, and we thank you. Teach us to see and hear your people when they call out in despair. May we be grateful for the understanding that can only come from pure suffering. And if not our own suffering, then a more open heart and compassionate presence to listen and support our sisters and brothers, reflecting on the journey to, and meaning of, freedom – then and now. Fill us with the newness of spirit which is you, so that we may go forth, secure in our faith, always willing to be a light in all the dark places.
Focus for the Day:
(Paraphrased from Pandemic by Lynn Ungar 3/11/2020) Today, I will reach out my heart, my words, and all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly where I cannot touch. I promise the world my love, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so long as I shall live.
Author: Robbie Sawitski