November 25, 2020

Eugene H. Peterson on "Exile"

 Exile is traumatic and terrifying.  Our sense of who we are is very much determined by the place we are in and the people we are with.  When that changes, violently and abruptly, who are we?  The accustomed ways we have of finding our worth and sensing our significance vanish.  The first wave of emotion recedes and leaves us feeling worthless, meaningless.  We don't fit anywhere.  No one expects us to do anything.  No one needs us.  We are extra baggage.  We aren't necessary.   ....

The exile experienced by the Hebrews is a dramatic instance of what we all experience simply by being alive in this world.  Repeatedly we find ourselves in circumstances where we are not at home.  We are strangers in a strange land.

The essential meaning of exile is that we are where we don't want to be.  We are separated from home.  We are not permitted to reside in the place where we comprehend and appreciate our surroundings.  We are forced to be away from that which is most congenial to us.  It is an experience of dislocation - everything is out of joint, nothing fits together.