Shalom v'Shalva | Rabbi Shalva's Blog
When the Canteen Runs Dry...
This past Shabbat, I spoke of Hagar and Yishmael’s journey into the desert. Their water depleted, Hagar prepares herself and her son for the end. Then God opens her eyes and she sees an oasis of water that she had not seen before.
As a rabbi, I encounter individuals and families whose canteens have run dry. Some of us fill our canteens with healthy habits – prayer, exercise, family, friendship. Some of us fill our canteens with entertainment – websites, television, radio, sports (go Patriots!...and Packers!!!) Some of us fill our canteens with work or school. The poet Rumi wrote: “Today like every other day we wake up empty and frightened.” From the abyss of sleep, we encounter the mountain that is each day and anxiously grab for our canteens. How else would we be able to survive and thrive in this world?
And then something happens. The canteen runs dry. Maybe, as has happened to so many in our country, one wakes up and finds out that their company is downsizing and their job no longer exists. Or perhaps one gets up and gets a call from their doctor that the test results have found a malignancy. Or, as we experienced a few weeks ago, one wakes up to find that early snows have knocked down power lines, leaving one without all the comforts of electricity-powered modern life. Whether through a minor inconvenience or a monumental disaster, the canteen is empty and we’re stuck.
That doesn’t have to be the end of the story. It wasn’t the end of the story for Hagar and Yishmael. God opened Hagar’s eyes to the well of water she had previously overlooked. When our life as we know it changes, when we find ourselves in the desert without provisions, we can invite God to open our eyes, to reveal to us the blessings that, even amidst hardship, continue to sustain us.