Sermons by Rev. Bonnie
Entering Into Our Personal Promised Land
September 10, 2006
Tonight I want to talk about The Promised Land. Biblically, in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Promised Land refers to the Land that G-d promised to the ancient Israelites so long as they followed all of G-d’s commandments. The Land is described as “flowing in milk and honey,” The particular Torah portion for this week finds us in the later part of the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses is saying farewell to his people, for if you remember he does not enter the Promised Land. At this point, he also outlines to the Israelites the blessings and the curses that will rain upon them if they follow, or don’t follow, the commandments that have been set forth..
To continue the story a bit further, the Israelites are commanded to assemble at the twin mountains when they cross the Jordan River. Mount Grizim is verdant and green with trees and foliage. Mount Aival is bleak and desolate. Both mountains are situated in the same area. They both enjoy the exact same rainfall and sunshine. The fertility of the soil is equal, and yet one grows foliage and the other is bleak.
And so it is with us human beings. Some of us are joyful, full of life, and able to flow with whatever comes our way. Others of us carry a perpetual dark cloud over our heads, moan and groan, and nothing ever seems to go our way. Now, I can only speak for myself here. I’ve known both of those mountains. Heck, I camped out on the bleak one for years. I invested in prime real estate on that mountain. And the only thing that grew was my level of despair and my alienation from life.
I haven’t climbed that mountain in a good number of years now. My feet are firmly planted in the green foliage. I breathe in the sunshine and I see the rainbows. I am in my Promised Land. And, I might add — since it is MY Promised Land, it flows with ice cream and chocolate instead of milk and honey.
What is the Promised Land in my humble opinion? It is knowing, choosing, and living our Oneness with our G-d or Higher Power or Spirit, or however we wish to refer to that Divine Energy. It is making the conscious choice to live our life in Love—at all times. It is knowing that all of the blessings we can stand are ours. And, one of the best parts is knowing that we don’t have to do it alone. G-d partners with us every step of the way.
And the bleak, barren mountain? It is our separation from the Divine. It is our pride, our self-importance, our negative ego that pulls us away from G-d’s love and wraps us in fear. It is our illusions and erroneous belief systems that we are not good enough, pretty enough, bright enough, loveable, or worthy. Our negative ego in particular sends us constant messages. You might recognize some of them: I can do it all by myself OR I need someone to do it for me; I am the greatest OR I am the worst; I don’t make mistakes I am perfect OR I am always wrong and flawed; I am the hottest thing around OR I am so ugly. While these messages may not be as distinct as I just mentioned, in some form or another—they are with us. Listening and believing the stories that our negative ego feeds us keeps us stuck in our victimhood. We truly don’t want to believe that we created our own reality. We draw our line in the sand and steadfastly refuse to be all that we can be.
The mountain of separation may look like it will keep us safe from disappointment or hurt or loneliness, but it really doesn’t. In my case, it served to harden my heart and put up an impenetrable coat of armor that kept all love from pouring either in or out. Disappointment? Yep, for sure. Feeling like a victim? You bet. Lonely? Without a doubt.
Well then, what does it take to get to our Oneness with G-d, our Promised Land? There is a story about some folks who were having a picnic next to a river. All of a sudden they see lots of children floating down the river screaming for help. People run over to the river to start pulling the kids out of the water. More kids just keep floating by. At that point one of the picnickers starts to walk up the river bank. “Where are you going,” shout the others, “stay and help.” He shouts back—I’m going to see who is pushing the children in the river to start with.”
So, what is pushing our negative egos? As simplistic as it sounds—we can make a choice to be done with our stories. We might ask ourselves: How does our negative ego show up? How do we want to be without the negative ego? How do we want to show up? As always—forgiveness is key. Here we strive to forgive ourselves for handing power over to our ego, and we move towards feeling and owning our value. And sometimes, we just have to fake it until we make it—act as if we feel whole and complete—because in reality—all of us are.
What does a positive ego or a Oneness with Spirit look like? It looks like laughter, gratitude, and honoring and celebrating all gestures of love. It involves surrendering control and knowing with all of your BEing that within Divine Love there is a lesson and a blessing in all that unfolds in your life. It’s knowing that every smile given and received is a gift—a reflection of the love that is ours 24/7.
I believe that on the fertile mountaintop there is available to us all of the love we can stand. As we move up the mountain we get closer to the sun—closer to the Light of the Universe. That light is Divine Love. That light is G-d. That light is our knowing that all that G-d is—we are. There is no separation. Separation is illusion. Oneness is our true state of BEing.
There once was a famous rabbi who asked his students, “Where is G-d?” One student answered, “In heaven.” Wrong. Another said, “Inside of us.” Wrong. Another said, “In each other.” Wrong. “The answer,” the rabbi said, “is wherever and whenever we let
G-d in—there is G-d.”
So my friends, when you cross your Jordan River, which mountain will you climb? The barren, fear-ridden peak that separates us from our Promised Land? Or the fertile love-filled one that brings us into our Oneness with G-d? The choice is always ours. May we all have the strength, the wisdom, and the intention to choose love. Then, milk and honey, ice cream and chocolate and all of life’s blessings will flow into our lives.
© 2019 Bonnie J. Berger. All rights reserved.