Lecha Lecha – Altneuland (Herzl’s ‘Old New land’) – A musing on Avraham’s journey
Lecha Lecha – Altneuland (Herzl’s ‘Old New land’) – A musing on Avraham’s journey These words by T.S .Elliot in Little Gidding echo the journey of Avraham “What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning The end is where we start from….
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time “
Avraham’s journey is the same as his fathers They both journey to the same land Avraham’s journey is an end and a beginning He must end all that is familiar He must begin all that is new We cannot see the world afresh when we are stuck in old modalities And as we get older we become more fixed More stagnant More stale And so all of us are called upon to “start again” to leave our land our birthplace our home Our fixed paradigms Our set ways The humdrum of our stable and seemingly ‘perfect lives’ We are all called to open ourselves up to new possibilities, new ways of seeing things
BUT the journey to new possibilities is paved with the fragments of brokenness Chaos envelopes the superficial order we built with great meticulousness The rupture can be partial or total It can shake the foundations of our faith- in ourselves, in others, in God And yet to remain in the safety of the constant and consistent is to die a death from putrid perfection Because when everything is seemingly perfect or ideal, when life offers us comforts and the comfortable….we no longer move In perfection there is no room for movement because we are scared for our ‘ideal world’ to crack (remember that perfect house of your great aunt where you were afraid to move for fear of smashing one of her perfect antiques) To risk movement is to risk brokenness…When we move there are cracks there is brokenness but there’s also – most profoundly… Growth I cannot grow in the stagnation of my comfortable and stable existence I have to move I have to break my perfect world if I am to find anything worth living for And then when I have journeyed, breaking the frozen idols of my own home and my own mind only then can I return to the beauty, richness and wonderment of what came before, cultivating its transformation rather than its decay Only when I start anew can I return to the old Only then do I see it for the first time Only then does it become my own Only then can I make the journey to the promised land Forever promised, forever the land of eternal possibilities The land of Yisrael – the land of ‘struggle’ – dynamic, challenging, never comfortable, never safe, A land whose beginning is its end and every end a new beginning A land whose modern residents arrived where it all started And knew the place for the first time