What a curious idea–that we have to consciously become ourselves, as if we are not already ourselves?
Even the Bible, in the book of Genesis, extends an invitation for us to become ourselves, in the Torah portion entitled Lech-Lecha, which is sometimes translated as go forth, or go to yourself. I had the marvelous opportunity to study and co-author a book chapter about Lech-Lecha with a friend and colleague, entitled "Going To and Becoming Ourselves: Transformation and Covenants in Parashat Lech-Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)." That book chapter is now part of an audacious collection of Jewish Biblical commentary called Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible.
Here's how the book's publisher, NYU Press, describes the book:
This incredibly rich collection unites the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight-allied writers, including some of the most central figures in contemporary American Judaism. All bring to the table unique methods of reading and interpreting that allow the Torah to speak to modern concerns of sexuality, identity, gender, and LGBT life.
The Bible has been misused as a weapon of oppression for so long that the publication of Torah Queeries is truly triumphant; more than that, it's revolutionary. It makes my heart sing.
What does it mean to become ourselves? What is does transformation look like and feel like? Do we only know it's happening after the fact?
I'd like to think there are times we can feel the process of transformation while it's happening; our old familiar well-worn patterns and habits start to shift, maybe make us a little uncomfortable. We're so used to trusting our old ways of being; Lech-Lecha tells the powerful story of transformation, the reinvention and renaming of our bodies, our relationships, our identities as individuals and as a community.
What options and resources are available during transformation so we can feel a sense of empowerment and holiness? How do we evoke and invoke qualities of sacredness and blessing, particularly as we are evolving anew?