This week's Torah portion has spent millennia following a similar - and very important! - narrative, the narrative of Lech Lecha - but never has it been more relevant than this week.
Lecha Lecha! Go, for yourself! The adage commanded to Abraham (now known by his preceding name, Abram) to God is all about getting out of the comfort zone.
Lech Lecha - Go, for yourself. Me'artzecha - from your land. Umi'moladetecha - and from your birthplace. Umi'beis avicha - from the house of your father.
Go, get out of your homeland - the earth that is beneath your feet, everything you've ever thought to be true, the mother earth that nurtured you that you always thought to be yours. Get out of it. Shake it up. Move out of your attachment to your own space and place, and go!
Go, get out of your birthplace - the stars under which you were born, the habits and tendencies you've grown up with, the things that you use to make excuses for who you are, and acknowledge that you can achieve something higher, better, stronger. Get out of that excuse-making paradigm and know what you can achieve.
Go, get out of your father's house - leave behind the traditions and customs that you grew up with, the family that keeps you restricted to who you think you can be, the expectations and projections that were placed upon you by your patriarchal lineage. Leave it behind and become your own man, connected only to your divine parent, not physical trappings that make you feel connected but are merely idol worship.
Avram is given this commandment and it's pretty jarring to us to look at, because no one ever wants to do that. And even as we follow the story of hearing of how he packed up his wife Sarai and possessions and all the followers / students / "souls they had made" in Haran, and moved off into the unknown, the land "which I shall show you".
He starts on an adventurous journey of family dynamics, tribal warfare, political allegiance, sexual politics, subterfuge and financial autonomy, all through the desert sands of the Holy Land via the fertile crescent of Mesopotamian, and the story is about as fascinating as the Torah gets - there's nothing like these early Genesis chapters.
But man. The application. It's deep.
Lech Lecha is always the story of going out on your own, of leaving behind paradigms to craft something for yourself. Of empowering people to go on their way and leave behind ways they've been taught, habits that are destructive and institutions that do not serve us.
But never have they meant what they mean this week, in November 2016, a week that will always go down as the week Democracy showed her face as serving the people, ALL the people, and therefore, not necessarily the people that we are with an ugly face of mirrored Shadow that is Donald J Trump and all that he represents.
So we have no choice, do we? We don't have a Bernie Sanders who's going to ra-ra-ra us with excitement about the free college we're going to have delivered on a silver platter with only $27 donations and some free pizza and beer phone banking as a prize; while he does all the work magically. We don't have a Hilary Clinton who's going to efficiently stride in on pant-suit-clad legs and dot the i's and cross the t's to fix all the infrastructures and systems so we wake up to a magic Disneyland America. We don't even have one of the Marco Rubio / Ted Cruz people who we can point fingers at but still trust to work with the systems of politics to get it done - let's not forget, these are the systems we are used to but absolutely despise, yet still go ahead and work with even when they prove they don't work for us (case in point: this week). So we're in the state of true Lech Lecha, of something completely new, of going off on our own and now - knowing that nobody else is going to do it for us.
Bernie can't do it, Hillary can't do it, Elizabeth Warren is doing as much as she can, but guess who really is going to do it?
Oh yeah. You got me. You. Me. The rest of us. WE are going to do it.
When two alliances of kings come to fight in the valley over unpaid tributes and chattel slavery, when the land of Sodom is compromised with evil and malice, when shepherds are fighting over grass in a land that is wide enough for many, when Pharoah feels that it's okay to abduct a woman overnight because of her beauty against her will - we know there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, but LECH LECHA - get the hell out, work outside the system, build something completely new.
Avram swans through these stories like the magic creature he was surely presumed to be in ancient Mesopotamia. Saving his wife in Egypt with a brilliant plan, stepping in on the kingly fight with superhuman military prowess, negotiating with his nephew to carve out separate territories, creating alliances with military princes over water wells and resource sharing - Avram did not operate with the status quo of ancient Canaan, he went above and beyond. He rose about all the paradigms of the time to completely rewrite the story, because although "The Canaanites were still in the land", he was living in the Land that God would Show - the land of the heart, of justice, of love, of compassion, of joy, of living a life devoid of fear.
In Avram's interactions with the Divine through visions and offerings throughout this portion, he is always told not to fear. He is told to envision the future, the magic that is waiting for him with numerous descendants and tribes, even as the odds seem stacked against him.
Because he's already broken out of the comfort zone, the rules no longer apply. Everything that is coming to him is possible, because he's not bound by the rules. Because when you know you have the capacity to affect millions of people in the future, it doesn't matter if you got the college degree and 9-5 job and white picket fence you were promised, because you KNOW that's no longer the American dream.
Because when we turn around and realize that government won't do it for us because government is now represented by a Donald Trump, and when we realize we can't blame our father's house or our homeland or our birthplace but only take responsibility ourselves for the culture we have all co-created, do we start to act. Do we get up, and go. Do we go out of our comfort zone, and LECH LECHA.
We go out, and we leave it all behind. The paradigms, the patterns, the idea of what should and shouldn't be. It's all going to pieces anyway - and in those burning embers, we see the feathers of the phoenix flexing, glistening, ready to rise. We tear it all down so there's space to build it back up again, and the structure is already on its way to completion - just a few feet over, where it's been built slowly and steadily all this time. We don't work with the rules because the rules have been made to be broken; instead we leave the status quo and arise into the consciousness of "The Land that God will Show Us", the divine state of being that is the full paradigm shift of creating a better world for the next generations.
It's already here, it's already happening. Like an illness that is healing as it shows symptoms, America is healing. It is purging out the darkness by showing it to us big and bright, and as we all recognize it, it's time to find it within, get rid of it, and know we'll never tolerate it - we'll build a better land ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us. We're awake. We're up. We're ready to step into the land that God has given us. And we'll do it ourselves, because we are going for ourselves. For our children, for our grandchildren, for our own integrity as human beings who walk this earth day to day.
And so we step forward, we walk the length and breadth of this land, and we know within our selves that this is how we have been blessed: With a land that we will inherit for our children, a land that will host numerous generations of abundance and magnificence, a land with a consciousness that will fly well above the tribal squabblings of the Canaanite kings and the licentiousness of Sedom into a land where miracles can happen. Where an old woman can conceive children. Where a single-handed warrior can subdue the armies of many kings. Where a nomadic shepherd can amass riches after refusing to accept the benevolence of an earthly king. Where a couple of old refugees can become the parents of two major nations and religions, as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky, because they followed, they trusted, they walked out of their comfort zone and into their true selves.