Last night after I finished my writing, my partner read it and told me that she thought I was a good writer. It might not seem like much on the outside but after a long, tense, stressful week, this is how it felt:
I never noticed how husky her voice sounds; not how I’d imagine some young fawn, but whatever. That’s beside the point! I’m tired and distracted and still trying to recover from my sunburnt and exhausting day yesterday, so let’s get down to business.
Psalm, Chronicles, Kings, Judges, Deuteronomy, Leviticus… here we are! Genesis.
I’m going to give the short short version today. (inhale)
So God visits Sarah and Sarah births a son to Abraham just as God said and Abraham names his son Issac and Isaac gets circumcised when he’s eight days old and Sarah thinks it’s still super weird and funny that she birthed a child but Sarah is all catty and jealous or something and so she tells Abraham that Hagar needs to get out and take her kid with her and Abraham doesn’t seem so thrilled with the idea but God tells him that it’s going to be okay so trust me on this one and so Hagar leaves with not a whole lot of water or food and she gets away and worries that her son is going to die and they talk about the kid like he’s a baby but in Genesis 17, Ishmael was already like thirteen years old but anyway God comes to her or sends an angel or something and tells her not to worry about it and showed her a well and the kid grows up and becomes an archer I guess. (gasp) So anyway then apparently he grows up and gets married and then “at that time” Abraham is talking to Abimelech and his general Phichol and they swear stuff to each other and are all well and good but then Abraham gets upset and rebukes Abimelech because of some well somewhere and I’m not sure what the heck is going on because Abraham acts like he dug this well apparently but Abimelech’s men seized it and I guess this is a big deal so then they made up and called the well Beersheba which was totally the same name as the place where Hagar went back in Genesis 20:14 so I’m really confused and anyway Abraham plants a tree there and it grows and he calls on God and prays or something and then he lives there in the land of the Philistines for many days. The end.
Oh, Matthew Hennnnnry…
So first of all I misread 21:9 and it turns out that the point is that Ishmael scoffed at Isaac. He was being disrespectful of someone who is really his half-sibling, and thus being disrespectful of his own father. Having no respect for the house, he is cast out. Matthew Henry says this:
“By abusing privileges, we forfeit them. Those who know not when they are well off, will be made to know the worth of mercies by the want of them.”¹
Regarding the whole thing with the well, I forgot how important a well of water is in a time before indoor plumbing and pumping stations. So it seems as though Abraham wanted his rights to the well back. I suppose when the Bible mentions the Wilderness of Beersheba in 21:14, perhaps that was a known area back then, but perhaps it got its name after Abraham and Abimelech made their oath. In this sense, it would be like saying “what is now California,” or some such thing.
While living in this land, Abraham plants a tree and prays. Henry has this to say:
“Abraham kept up public worship, in which his neighbours might join. Good men should do all they can to make others so.”¹
It’s poignant to me, and I think many Christians would agree with this statement. However, I think many people seek to accomplish this goal by pushing their beliefs and, intentionally or not, putting themselves on a pedestal. When someone acts like they’re better than everybody because of their faith, others are more likely to try and find fault. The truth is we all sin, in one way or another, or at least we have in the past. Nobody is “perfect,” but I feel like I must append this statement. We are who we are, and it cannot be expected that we should be different. All the inputs and experiences and things learned from life have put is here, now, in this place, wherever that may be. Where else could we be? Who else could we be?
But the power is within us to change our environment, to have new experiences, to take time to observe our own thoughts and thought patterns and to interrupt dysfunctional ones and promote or reinforce healthy ones. I can’t think of how to phrase all the things I want to say right now, but in a sense you must be the guardian of your soul, keeping watch for the anger and fear that seeps in from outside sources as well as that which bubbles up from within. I was going to use walls and barriers as a metaphor, but you’re not protecting a fragile heart or defending a delicate soul; you are strengthening the very thing you protect.
By giving back, by being kind, by spreading love, your heart grows and your soul strengthens. Your love will run deeper and deeper until there is no place for anger or fear or hatred. Love, which implies God, will suffuse your entire being and you will realize the beauty of life. You will discover what I mean when I say that nobody’s perfect, but everybody is.
Have a blesséd day. Peace be upon you.
P.S.: Oh my God I’ve been dying to include some Zen Pencils comics in my work but haven’t found an appropriate point until now. Gavin Aung Than, the artist, is one of my idols and heroes. I can draw a little bit, but not like him. I haven’t practiced and haven’t worked at it. Maybe someday, but for now I will spread my messages through my writing. Regardless, his work always seems to be in the back of my mind. The comic posted above can be found here.