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Exodus and Resurrection

This weekend Jews commemorate their exodus from slavery in Egypt, and most Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus after his execution a few days earlier. And this year at this time, Muslims are observing Ramadan, which among other things, is the month in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammed. So in different ways, these three peoples—a majority of the global population—are marking a transition from darkness to light.

These kinds of observances and rituals can be good reminders of who we are and how we may aspire to live our lives. Part of their power probably comes from sharing the observances with others as a community. Part of the Jewish ritual involves seeing ourselves as the people who were set free from Egypt all those thousands of years ago, not some people who lived long ago: “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and now we are free.” We don’t just relate the story of the exodus; we’re meant to relive it through the ritual.

Thinking about this reminded me of meditation, of course. Every time I realize I’m caught up in thinking, let that go, and come back to my breath, I am making a transition from darkness to light. Whatever the content of my thoughts—no matter how joyful and optimistic, or sad, angry, or anxious—they pull me away from being present in my body and in my life as it is in this moment. And in my experience, being in my body and in my life as it is makes me feel more peaceful and more contented with my life than any thoughts I’ve ever had—and like most people, I’ve had a lot of thoughts!

Big holidays offer collective support for awakening usually once a year, and meditation and other practices offer awakening on a more flexible schedule guided by the individual. Both can be very powerful. Whatever works for you, here’s wishing you an enlightening day, an enlightening season, and an enlightening life!

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