Monday, October 20, 2008

Wrestling with the Angel (Image: The Wrestling of Jacob and the Angel by Chagall)

In Rachel Naomi Rehem's book, a national bestseller, My Grandfather's Blessings, she recounts the beautiful story of Jacob wrestling with an angel as her grandfather once told it.
Sometimes a wound is the place where we encounter life for the first time, where we come to know its power and its ways. Wounded, we may find a wisdom that will enable us to live better than any knowledge and glimpse a view of ourselves and of life that is both true and unexpected. Almost the last story my grandfather told me was about a man called Jacob who had been attacked in the night as he slept alone by the bank of a river...He awakened to find himself gripped by muscular arms...It was so dark that he could not see his enemy, but he could feel his power. Gathering all his strength, he began to struggle to be free.
'Jacob was a very strong man, but even using all of his strength he could not free himself..." "How long did they struggle, Grandpa?" I asked with some anxiety. 'A long, long time...' he replied, 'but the darkness does not last forever. Eventually it was dawn and as the light came, Jacob saw that he had been wrestling with an angel...Jacob's leg was hurt in the struggle. Before the angel left, he touched [Jacob] on the place where he was hurt...He touched it to remind Jacob of it. Jacob carried it all the rest of his life. It was a place of remembering.' Looking back on it, I have wondered if my grandfather..had not left me with this story as a compass. How put the struggle behind you as quickly as possible and get on with your life. Life might be easier then but far less genuine. Perhaps the wisdom lies in engaging the life you have been given as fully and courageously as possible and not letting go until you find the unknown blessing that is in everything." (p.25-27)


Lindsey Sharp said...

what a cool story! It definitley makes you think of where we came from and why we are given what we are given! I love you girl!

Benjamin Thevenin said...

I think that the people who I admire most all seem to share this same strength--they acknowledge the struggles that they've experienced in the past as being formative to who they are today.

And that seems to be something that you and I are learning while working through this illness. We can't count on things always going well for us, but we can make every effort to use these times to, hopefully, become better people.

Great blog Em. I'm so proud of how you're helping people (including me) better understand illness and live happier lives. Love you.

Lyndzee Durham said...

I don't know exactly why but this story really struck a cord with me. We are so often told to move on and forget, forge through it without embracing all that it means. I hope that, while my struggles are small, I can use them to give me strength. I have always thought you strong Em, but the few times we have been able to talk and through other communication, you have a wonderful honesty about you and your story has lent strength to mine. (I used the word strength or a version of it way too much :)