During my time in Covid quarantine this week, I have been reading Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times by Rabbi David Wolpe, one of our Lenten Preaching Series preachers for our 100th anniversary in 2023. This week, I especially identify with his thoughts about exile. Rabbi Wolpe writes, “Exile is the prerequisite for growth…. We live in temporary homes as we travel through the wilderness. Nothing is permanent, and no place ideal. Our task is not to gather in the shade of the garden’s trees, but to grow as we hold hands through the wilderness.”
Part of my growth during this week of wilderness time is an awareness of the presence of God with us each step of the way on the uncharted path of exile. Even in whatever form of quarantine we are experiencing, we know that we are not alone. We feel tenderly guided through the valley by the rod and the staff of our Good Shepherd. We know, too, that we have a whole congregation of friends who are holding us up.
Times of exile help us wander and meander toward finding the promised land of home. Rabbi Wolpe describes Abraham, but he’s really describing all of us, as he reflects, “Abraham has lost many homes, but he has never really been homeless. He has carried his home inside of him because he has lived with faith. Abraham knows that he is not alone.” More than ever, we know that too.