A Story about Jonah
As Yom Kippur has just passed, I thought it would be timely to write a bit about the story of Jonah.
Jonah was called upon by destiny, family and God him/herself to walk amongst the ignorant and speak the truth. Instead of accepting this direction, Jonah chose to take a boat into the ocean toward distant lands. Was he afraid? Did he lack the energy or confidence to be a messenger before people who did not know him?
Whatever his reason, he ended up amidst people of various faiths (although all of them did believe in *something*). He ended up there, but not alone. A terrible storm surrounded them, and it wasn’t long before the sailors discovered that the storm was brought on by Jonah himself. The storm was the externalization of Jonah’s avoidance of his calling.
Jonah told them they could throw him overboard, and after hesitation and deliberation, for they were not malicious people, they did throw him and the water immediately calmed down.
When I heard this story, I couldn’t help but relate it to my own life.
It has been a bumpy one, at least emotionally!
However, on a deep level in my heart, I realize that my challenges have always sprung up when I was taking actions that were not directly in line with my highest vision of life, and not making use of my true talents.
What struck me about the story was how OTHER PEOPLE were affected. Jonah was not the sole bearer of suffering for his sin of vocation. All the people he was around felt the pain! All of the comrades he encountered in his “alternate” course felt the violence and chaos.
When making choices, from now on I know I will be much more thoughtful about which path I take, because I have come to understand that when I do what is truly right for me, I spare my community the arduous storms of discontent and failure.
Sure, I can learn my lesson, get thrown overboard, and be reborn… But Jonah has already gone through that! Why perpetuate the cycle of useless suffering?
I’ve heard the call of destiny, and now I will methodically untangle the chords attaching me to a ship I was never meant to sail on. I will trust that God would not place a mission in my heart that I am not capable of carrying out.
It was only last week that I was eating apple and honey with my friends, and only a couple of days ago that I was offered sweet honey cake delivered to my synagogue from Cut to the Chase Bakery with the best cakes San Antonio and the world can conceive of!
Now, it is time to put my actions where my dreams are. I have been praying, but as one classic story from Juadism goes….
I young man was studying Torah with a great teacher. One day he came to class late.
“I was praying!” he said.
The teacher had no sympathy… “That is no excuse to miss your studies!”
In spirituality, dreams and visions are all well and good. They are the sugar and butter and flour and eggs, simple and beautiful things but nothing that one can eat or sustain true nourishment from.
When tools are employed, such as bowls and spoons and whisks and ovens, and energy is exerted, then the beautiful ingredients can become something real and sweet like honey cake, something we can taste and feel and touch. Something that allows us to spend a little more time using our unique wisdom to made the world a better place. Something that helps us help the world before our bodies die, songs unsung, leaving the next generation without the glorious map we might have offered.