From Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan:
God said to Abraham, “kill me a son.”
Abe said, “Man, you must be putting me on?”
God said “No”
Abe said “What?”
God said, “you can do what you want to, but….next time you see me coming, Abe, you’d better run…”
Bob Dylan’s lyrics make it seem like there was direct beef between God and Abraham, and I find myself wishing Bob hadn’t excluded Sarah’s role from his reference to the story – I mean, it’s such an easy rhyme! In my admittedly ignorant opinion, Sarah’s ‘ungodly’ thoughts and actions are equally integral to this ego-filled gem from the Old Testament than the ongoing testing of her faith in God, or the impressive kingly lineage she begat. The unacknowledged wounds that resonate from this ancient conflict remain unhealed (and very possibly unacknowledged) to this day. We remain fundamentally separate in our individual beliefs about who matters and why, fostering our growing fears, and trying to protect what’s ours.
This heightened state of emotion has become a human pattern, all but ensuring that we cannot see each other’s perspectives without great effort and intention. I know that learning bible stories from secular song lyrics means liberties are taken with ‘truth’, but agreement on truth is where we find deep divergence today – and that’s where I have learned to call in the Listening Pillar. Until a few days ago, I couldn’t have told you much about Biblical Sarah, and probably wouldn’t have remembered how directly her roots are connected to the tragic conditions surrounding present day Israel. We are witnessing a horrific onslaught being carried out between Israel and Hamas. Underneath it lies the ongoing religious dispute over what God Promised, who he Promised it to, and more importantly, what he actually meant by that Promise… Which begs the question, what if God hoped Sarah might both of the children she manifested for her husband and his royal bloodline? Ideally, we could be living with an epic example of unconditional love. Seems to me like Sarah missed a solid opportunity to show God some gratitude for what she was given. What would the Promised Land look like if Isaac had been raised to appreciate the family God gave him: learning to compromise and grow alongside his older brother?
Sarah is widely observed as the traditional mother of Judaism; touted as a true example of what it means to have abiding faith in God’s promises. I am not here to take anything away from what she means to people, but maybe shine a Wholeness light on the stipulated facts. Even though God himself is quoted in the Bible telling Abraham he would make Sarah a Mother to Nations, she obviously had a hard time buying it. Up until becoming pregnant at age 90, Sarah struggled to believe that God would make good on his Promise about her. When she feared time was running out for her to conceive, she devised a plan for her slave, Hagar, to become pregnant by Abraham, and it worked. Enter Ishmael. Aside from Sarah hating on his Mom, Ishmael would get to enjoy life as Abraham’s son until, at the age of thirteen, his presence quickly became unwelcome.
Upon Isaac’s arrival, Ishmael was cast out of his father’s kingdom. These brothers were both sons of Abraham, and both destined to be kings (at least according to God), but Sarah wasn’t having it. Sarah saw her son as superior and didn’t want the boys sharing the heirship. She maneuvered to remove Hagar and Abraham’s first son, with God’s apparent complicity (he had left it a little vague and his meaning became subject to interpretation). God kept his word about Kings and Nations, however, and that rift still reverberates throughout our earth, daily. Ishmael and Isaac would both go on to produce great bloodlines, causing the ongoing effects of brotherly separation to continue to ripple through our communities today.
It’s Ignorance Week, so I’m not surprised that my own lack of awareness has kept me from knowing I have held a subconsciously-rooted trigger with people named Sarah since I was nine years old (really!). My dear friend Jennifer just left after a five day visit. She is currently in the middle of Seminary, and I am experiencing my first full week of studying/working with Our Raw Material pretty much full time. Each day, we have both posted up at the dining room table on opposite sides; reading, writing, and listening to music. We checked in on the news and stopped to discuss the vibrations of human connection as they struck us. As part of a project, Jennifer is researching Sarah from the Bible so that she can portray her in an upcoming podcast. Only through Jennifer expounding about Sarah for days was I able to recognize this line of ego-based resistance towards the Sarahs in my own life – and I found the whole thing to be crazy interesting!
For starters, Sarah means Princess, and I am definitely aware that the concept “Princess” has never landed well on me. I can root it back to feelings of jealousy for a platform or position I didn’t get to know or experience, and probably really wished I could on some level. My reality didn’t even give me a chance to dream in that direction, and I have always been an intentional anti-princess (unless it comes to deboning chicken, and then I’ll use every trick in the book to get someone to do it for me). Watching Disney movies with my kids showed me positive dimensions of what a princess could actually be, and I found things to appreciate, but apparently I never got deep enough with it to find my triggers. I didn't think I had any latent ‘princess issues’, but when we started talking about Sarah, my unconscious thoughts grabbed the spotlight.
As Jennifer fleshed out her Sarah character with joy, my idea of Sarah was gaining negativity. That was even before I knew that Sarah meant princess. Mother of Kings and Nations? Mother of Judaism? Example of Faith? Every one of those claims was instantly challenged by my brain/ego, which I’ll be the first to admit was strange considering how little I knew about her story. I’m not sure I could have told you she was Abraham’s wife, nor did I remember that she gave birth at 90 to the bloodline of Kings that would reign for the foreseeable future. I’m not attached to her in that way. Abraham drew my attention when he showed up in a Bob Dylan lyric. He’s also a spiritual entity, and I know a lot of people who follow his wisdom, but that’s the extent of my conscious awareness. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read the Book of Genesis–it just means it didn’t stick within my esoteric knowledge.
Did God design our division and separation as a human race? And if so, to what end or purpose? If we are all part of God, does that mean we all have a hand in the act of turning our backs on things that are contrary to our own sensibilities? And does it further suggest that we each play a part in remembering that we have remained connected from the beginning, even though we live in a shared illusion that we are separate. I can’t know, but I really hope so.
I know I can do my own untangling and let go of trapped feelings about the Sarah’s in my own life. Sara Tinklepaugh/Witcher was the first Sara whom I allowed to make me feel inadequate. Her family had money to spend on nice clothing and all the Hello Kitty accessories she desired. She had the 64 boxes of crayons, even though the supply list said 24. She got to use 40 more colors than the rest of us, and my jealousy teemed about it. I did wind up getting a box of my own, but only after I won a bet with my dad and my aunt, proving that I wasn’t a liar–but that is a different story!
There have been several Sarahs that I have wished to befriend, but couldn’t easily connect with them: Sarah Morrison was in my youth group. She was older than me and cooler than me. We finally bonded on a trip to Colorado, but she moved away from Kansas City right after that. A few weeks ago, I went to happy hour with some old neighbors, including one of my best friend’s best friends, Sara Glanville. She used to watch my daughter while I played disc golf, and when I told her I had tried to be her friend back then, she laughed at me, suggesting that maybe I hadn’t tried very hard, and I think she’s probably right. I’m happy to say we established that we are friends before I realized my issue.
When I was 13, my friend Michelle Kupecki lived next door to her best friend, Sarah Kashka. At that age I was low key jealous of my friends’ friends, so I really felt good when I developed a budding friendship with Sarah, too. The last time I saw her, she was leaving for Texas to visit her dad (spring break?). She never made it back home. She became the first person I knew who had been reportedly murdered. Michelle’s parents moved her to Springfield, I think, and to my recollection, the incident was never addressed by teachers or parents. Life just went on…
Sarah Silverman came on the scene with raw humor that made me laugh hysterically and feel internally uncomfortable all at the same time. She was so funny, but also somehow wrong in my first estimation. I don’t believe she was ever fucking Matt Damon, but the video made be feel weird sympathy for Jimmy Kimmel–mostly because I knew if it were me, I would have a hard time keeping the humor out in front of the suggestive content. This is clearly my issue, because Sarah Silverman has continued to prove how awesomely funny she is, even taking on our divided social issues with pointed jocularity (and I think she’d love that word choice too). I’m going to take this opportunity to get in one easy dig, by placing Sarah Palin in the same paragraph. If I have to explain my triggers with Palin, my writing might not be your cup of tea!
Most recently, I tried to train a woman named Sarah for a new job. It took me a couple months to convince the people around me that she wasn’t a good fit. In the end, she didn’t get to keep the job, and I was almost gleeful within my sense of being right about her, but I stopped short of feeling superior. I breathed a sigh of relief and I dove into the challenges of my next opportunity. A few days ago, SNL went back on air, so my husband gets to watch his recent crush, Sarah Sherman. I have nothing bad to say about her, personally. She seems like an awesome and amazing human, but my ego chords are still struck with the tiniest hint of jealousy – simply because my husband loves her.
Changing my tune about Sarahs has been a light-hearted, welcome endeavor as I watch conflict regularly pile up in our world. My ignorance and my lack of international resources can make it feel like there is nothing I can do to help the situation we see on the news. My newly-discovered and recently discarded Sarah bias reinforces my awareness that our feelings aren’t always accurate or fair. Our thoughts and emotions have an energetic power that vibrates into our environment, just like the choices Sarah made for her family a long time ago continue to have an effect on the world we experience today. When we dig into our own triggers, known and unknown, for understanding and meaning, we find increased personal power and the skill set to use it with universal intention.
My final reflection on Sarah brings me to my birthday, which occurred while Jennifer was here. My Team P text thread lit up with birthday love and pics, as we do for all kinds of things. There are two Saras among us - Cunningham and Nicholson - both phenomenal women to be sure. Cunningham pointed out that she doesn’t have a picture of the two of us, and I realized that as much as I admire and respect both Sarahs, I haven’t spent much one-on-one time with either of them. With Nicholson, I can see that I’ve barely had an opportunity, even though she energetically heads up the women’s position in disc golf, running Throw Pink. No joke. Her heart and soul are out there pioneering the business end of Women’s Disc Golf with every breath she takes, even though it can sometimes feel like a losing battle. I feel grateful for my opportunity to support her work, energetically.
Cunningham is fucking funny. She’s an educator, and even though I’m not as close to her as some, I’ve learned so much from the way she carries herself through life, as well as disc golf. A scientist of life, she kinda side-eyes what I do, but it’s always made sense to me. I have mad respect for her natural curiosity and consideration of things she doesn’t understand. Her students are lucky to have her. Geography plays a role because The Sarahs live the furthest away from me, but even as I write this I’m surprised to realize that I’ve often viewed them both as somehow ‘better’ than me, unconsciously. It’s a silly thing, because consciously I know that every member of Team P is uniquely awesome and able to bring that energy into everything we do–especially since we have each other as a resource for support. I think it comes down to each of us occupying different spaces in disc golf, but maybe it is the Sarah Factor, too.
I invite and encourage us to all check into our own triggers, see what they connect to, and what we continue to learn from them. There is an abundance of love available to all of us, and the more we go looking for it the more we will get to experience what it feels like. I am actually looking forward to meeting whatever version of Sarah that my friend Jennifer pulls in for her podcast. I know she covers a lot of (under) ground. I intend to keep breathing with feeling and welcoming the healing.