Usually around this time of year, my sons and I would be all packed to travel for an in-gathering with family and friends to observe Passover. It is joyous and honestly downright fun to see everyone again and have a major sleepover on the campground as the women prepare the tables and side dishes, the men watch the ground and guard the gate, the children rehearse and play, and the elders teach and slay the lamb. The Holy Day amidst the renewal of Springtime and the fact that many of the children (and some educators in our gathering) are in a state of rest with Spring Break makes this season a favorite of mine. Unlike years past, the year 2020 poses a different reality, though with a rather familiar feel. Sure, we are not traveling or gathering; but we remain Passover-conscious in staying home, deliberate in avoiding a plague, and listening to the order of the authorities called to keep us safe. In some way, the Spirit of Passover is possibly more surreal in the face of COVID-19 than ever before in my personal keeping of it. I am a fan of tradition, yet I despise vain tradition; and so, if I can identify some value or relevancy, I am usually on-board. With that, I ponder – what is the point of Passover? Or rather, what is the point of me keeping Passover? I am sure I could write at list; but I’ll spare you and focus on two major reasons for me.
  • It is a time that ushers a state of rest and renewal that I need (annually) in my life.
  • It is a time that invokes a state of reflection that I need in my heart and my mind.
  And in the wake of COVID-19, both are magnified; with that I have re-learned the value of listening and the reward in complete rest. While Passover is not necessary to be intentional about annual rest, renewal, and reflection; I have discovered that I operate best with cycles and accountability—and Passover is sure to come around each Spring and reminds me that this is my opportunity and time to refresh on purpose. As an educator by trade, I am flooded with correspondence on the world’s current deadly plague as my university makes decisions and gives updates as often as daily. Many of these updates are painstaking. The world is in a constant state of uncertainty now and there is also the notion that some Americans have refused to practice certain in-shelter suggestions up to mandates making the infectious spread more likely and more harmful. It dumbfounds some of us with this leading thought … Ugh! Why can’t people just listen? or See, if they would have just listened! I mean there is also some frustration emptied out on the nation’s leader for… well…um, not listening (among other things). 🤔 My reflection today is a personal one and as such I am avoiding the urge to detail the lack of leadership and provision the Commander in Chief has demonstrated; and instead focus on my own personal responsibility. Back to people listening – you know since our safety is also our responsibility too.😉

The Value of Listening

  It is the act of listening that has caused me to connect (at least in some way) the times of old and these currents times together in a way that gives me an appreciation for people who simply know how to listen. I am no conformist and I am certainly an opinionated, get-in-your-face, moves to the beat of my own drum, and give-you-a-piece-of-my-mind type-woman. Nonetheless, I also understand the value of listening—the who, the why, and the when. It occurred to me than during a plague, these ancients who lived in Goshen thousands of years ago understood the value of listening too. Much like my current situation, they were instructed to stay inside. As to not over-simplify, it is fair to note that the story is more complex than just staying inside; but it was definitely part of the instructions. There is also the idea that being “outside” exposed these ancient ones to their own death. The Passover story seems to portray a sure and immediate death whereas the COVID-19 story is less severe with a possibility of infection that may lead to sickness that could cause death; nonetheless death is included in both stories. And, if you have known someone who has died from this virus (as I have) that death part pinches harder.   I do not know how to avoid this plague and I have no guarantee that it will not befall me or my loved ones; but I do know that I plan on staying inside. Yes, because it is good sense; and yes, because I know how to listen. Yet because it is Passover, I would have been inside anyway remembering a story about a plague. But this year, this Passover, I am inside living a story about a plague. And in the spirit of this time-honored story (real or imagined), the people who stayed inside were spared. My prayer is that the plague passes over me and you too. May we be spared.

The Reward of Rest

  The art of stillness as a contemporary Passover observer is a skill that I have learned and perfected over time. But, this year I am afforded more stillness than I could ever produce on my own—and it is such a blessing. I usually have to pause my own life in a society and economy that remains busily moving as the country does not break during this time. But in this Passover memorial, the streets are quiet, commerce is slow, and I do not have report to work. Each morning, I can actually hear myself think and listen to the songbirds in the tree right outside my window and I do not have to rise at the crack of dawn to enjoy it. When I close my laptop and transition from teaching and managing (working) each day, there is full rest. Not merely the personal rest I have experienced on my own accord in previous Passover observances—but a pause and a silence that is healing. The peaceful and reflective thoughts I am privy to in this season are such a treat. My prayer is that you too partake in this healing stillness and experience this joyful rest.

I have firsthand re-learned the safety in heeding wise instructions and the health in full rest.

Happy Passover to you and yours.

Be safe, be healthy, and stay inside. 😊


~Love, Light, and Passover

Alezah Jae