The Divine Lunge

Genesis 32:22-31 – The 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for August 3, 2014

“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” (Genesis 32:24)

Jacob traveled to seek favor—forgiveness—from his brother Esau.

Jacob sent his family on ahead and remained by the River Jabbok.

River. Sunset. Night approaching...
River. Sunset. Night approaching…

It was night, with the heat of the day finally easing. The Jabbok flowed, a liquid ribbon of life among the arid hills and barren ridges. Stars glittered overhead, nocturnal jewels. A breeze soothed Jacob’s skin, carrying the smoky remnants of old campfires and lingering fragrance of his departed family.

Jacob was alone, and yet not alone.

In a darkness only partly caused by night, Jacob waited. He was alone with the countless promises that he’d broken and made and broken again, the old lies he’d crafted and sold as the truth, the shameful acts that moaned from the hidden corners of his soul.

Jacob was alone, and yet not alone.

Why did he wait?

Why had he sent his wives and children across the Jabbok?

Had Jacob intuited something, in the murmuring of the river or in the whisper of wind, which had prompted him to stay?

And then, so said Genesis, a man wrestled Jacob. It would be a brutal struggle, lasting the night, without rules, with neither adversary relenting, with Jacob sustaining injury and still fighting on.

Like Jacob we live much of our lives in darkness. But if we’re busy-busy from dawn to dusk, or if we have that rare stretch of dreamless sleep, we pretend to temporarily escape or ignore the darkness. Though often enough, the darkness of our fears find us. Continue reading →

And Then Jacob Did

Genesis 28:10-19a – The 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for July 20, 2014

“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…” (Genesis 28:15)

"Jacob’s Ladder" by Albert Huthusen
“Jacob’s Ladder” by Albert Huthusen

Jacob battled his brother Esau in the womb, later ripped off his brother’s birthright, and then tricked their father Isaac into blessing the younger Jacob instead of the elder—and expected—Esau. After Jacob’s deceit, Esau plotted revenge, declaring he’d kill his younger brother. Isaac’s paternal solution to this sibling rivalry was to encourage Jacob to get outta Dodge. Dear Dad, such the pillar of the Judeo-Christian tradition, suggested that Jacob vamoose for the relative safety of Uncle Laban’s haven in Haran.

Jacob, preferring to be on the run rather than be run down by Esau, heeded his father’s unimaginative advice.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned God?

Which is not to say God wasn’t in these verses. But the Holy, the One who set creation in motion, the One who sent Abraham toward the promised land, the One who vowed to Abraham and Sarah they’d children, the One who fulfilled that vow in Isaac, was ignored by Jacob.

Isaac’s younger son didn’t reference God. Didn’t encounter God. Didn’t fear or love or call upon God.

And then Jacob did. Continue reading →