A Process Note: You’ll need your method of journaling for this week’s assignment. Any time I encourage you to write down, feel free to record your reflections and storying in other media. If you find yourself doing so by telling wholly new stories or by using other arts, like quilting, collage, or sculpture, you’ll want to be able to explain it to others in order to participate in class.
Reverence for Holy Ground:
In many ways, when we approach this holy library, even if we have grown up with these stories and studied them for years, we are still strangers on this holy ground. The cultures that these stories are about are very distant from our own, and millennia of interpretation have become part of our own cultures. Consider what you know about the Tower of Babel and write down your understanding of the story. Now turn to the text – Genesis 11:1-9 (abbreviated Gen.). What spiritual themes are in that story? How are they connected to your life? How close is what your memory carries to that text?
Take one piece of another, even more difficult story, of Noah after the flood. Write down or retell the ending of the flood story. What spiritual themes are in that story? How are they connected to your life? Read the text, Gen. 8:18-9:17. How close is your memory to the text? What spiritual themes seem important in this telling? What confuses? What seems most connected to your life?
In the time and place that these stories were set down and edited, many of the peoples understood the gods to be specific to particular places. When one left a place, one left one’s gods. Loss of home and kin was a loss of everything – livelihood, security, history, purpose, and religion. Cultures in Diaspora – something that is nearly taken for granted as part of contemporary global experience – is an alien concept at the beginning of our library. Used to cultures in Diaspora, one of great themes in Genesis we might draw out today is this change to understanding and appreciating everywhere as holy ground, and the possibility of carrying our stories with us, being shaped by and also changing where we move.
What do you remember of the story of Abram and Sarai before they became Abraham and Sarah? Before Hagar and Ishmael and Isaac? Journal your telling of their story. What spiritual themes seem strongest to you? Where are you challenged or finding confusion? What seems most connect to your life? Now read Gen.12 & 13. Take your time. Put yourself into the story. What themes emerge? What surprises?
Have you ever known a particular place that felt like home to you? Have you ever known a place where you belonged and knew you were part of the living story of that place? If you’ve never felt that kind of belonging, imagine what it would be like to do so. How do you know your story and make yourself at home?
If you’ve been called out of a home place, how did you know it was time to go? How did that leaving feel? If you have never known a home place, how do you know it is time to settle? How do you weave your story into the places you live?
Return to Sarai and Abram. What does their story say to you now?
Review: God’s promises to Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:18-9:17) and the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9).
Study: Abram & Sarai (Gen. 12 & 13)