“As the mystics everywhere have repeatedly told us, it is only in accepting death that real life is found.” Ken Wilber, Grace & Grit
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The people’s patience was worn out by the journey; so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” So the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover. Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.
Today’s scripture is a story with a lesson.
It’s all our stories really.
Sometimes we feel like we’ve been uprooted by situations in life that seem out of our control.
We may feel like we’ve been forced into a desert.
We must let go of our old life in order to experience new life.
What we need is a strong faith that God, a Benevolent Universe, a Great Good, is leading us.
But many times when we are overrun with troubles, we instead play the blame game.
We find a “scapegoat” to blame for our troubles.
I would suggest that the serpents in today’s story were not sent by God as a punishment.
God doesn’t do that!
The snakes were a natural occurrence.
The Israelites had already been angry at God over their living conditions, or in other words, they were angry at what life was presenting them.
As Paula D’Arcy said, “God comes to you disguised as your life.”
Life was in the process of taking them through a death-to-life-struggle.
That’s how growth and transformation happens!
But in going against God, or Life, or Reality, or the Flow, they ran into more obstacles as in the biting serpents.
And what was the cure that God prescribed?
Mounting the scapegoat, the very thing they were blaming, on a pole so they could look up at it and see it for what it was: a SCAPEGOAT!
Years later, Jesus himself would become the scapegoat, the one on whom the people would place the blame, the one to get rid of so they could remain in their self-centered, unjust ways.
Look up at Jesus on the cross and see the cruel absurdity in placing the blame on one person for the group’s refusal to unite in allowing God, or Love itself (1 John 4:8), to transform them.
Struggles and hardships are not punishments but opportunities to unite and be transformed.
We must allow a Great Compassion to warm our hardened hearts.
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Remember: God loves you!