Tonight I realized how much laundry had to be done and my mind immediately started looking for other things to do. My newsfeed on FaceBook kept informing me that a good portion of my friends (most of them burners) were either confirming or canceling their RSVP to attend a Passover celebration that some someone was holding somewhere. It turned out the someone was a indeed a fellow burner with whom I had many mutual friends and the somewhere was his house. So I did what any self respecting burner and experienced procrastinator would do, …I invited myself over.
In truth I wasn’t just procrastinating. I had wanted to attend a Seder this year anyway but didn’t have any connections to someone who I knew was hosting a Seder so I was truly excited about this last minute opportunity. And my experience with burners at religious celebrations to this point in my life has, so far, been pretty exhilarating. That awkward part about me just inviting myself over without provocation is true though, and fortunately, the host was gracious and welcomed me kindly. …and not just me.
Considerably more than half the people there had never been to a Seder before. The small den was packed well over 30 people were crammed up against each other, shoulder to shoulder, around five small folding tables and we still managed to save a seat for Elijah, even after I showed up. There were 3, maybe 4, yarmulkes total amongst us so instead the men were covered respectfully with hard hats, snow gear, a toy fire fighter hat, a covered costume crown and one sock monkey mask. Kosher, hopefully …barely. Orthodox, no
We stammered and stuttered through the Hebrew, of course. We shouted out page numbers to each other as we tried to make sense of using two entirely different versions of the Haggadah (liturgy books). And then we stuffed ourselves with Kugel, gefelte fish, Hillel sandwiches and…. brisket of course (this particular part of the diaspora is taking place in Texas after all).
It was mildly chaotic, accidentally joyful, unfittingly fun, genuinely warm and full of hope. It was a room full of hope. That part fits. Hope fits this story.
We didn’t “get” it all but we did get a chance to hear our host, my brand new friend, say something to the affect of this: This is not just our suffering that God sees, but God sees the suffering of everyone.
The story of the Passover and the ritual of the Seder meal is rich and it is filled with an innumerable amount of insights into who God is and who God’s people are supposed to be. But tonight I simply heard this: God cares about all this suffering.
It was oddly nice to show up as something of a unexpected guest tonight. I hear things differently when I am the welcomed stranger. There was just an assumption that, of course, we would have enough. There would surely be enough room, enough wine, enough chairs, enough food. Enough.
And while sitting as a stranger and eating my fill at a table I never even knew existed, I heard someone say suffering matters to God, therefore let us give thanks.
I did. I gave thanks to God for that moment, for the story, for the food, and for the welcome. I gave thanks and said, “If it matters to You, please God, help it matter to me.”
I do not know entirely what to do with all of the suffering in the world but tonight we had a good head start: tell the story, keep one seat open, and do the best you can with what you have… oh, and above all, always trust that there will be enough.