Thursday, September 4, 2014

“No such thing as happenstance”

What do you and your memoir have to do with Joseph? You remember Joseph—the guy with the coat of many colors.

He was sold by his brothers,
relocated in Egypt,
elevated to a position of exceptional power and influence,
falsely accused of rape by Potipher’s wife,
imprisoned, an innocent man, in a dungeon,
reconciled with his family,
and resettled in Goshen.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner observes:

“The characters in the tale are so consumed with trying to manipulate their own fortunes that they all (like most of us) fail to notice what is really happening not only around them but—and here is the key idea—through them and despite them. Nobody gets it. Nobody but Joseph.

“… He realizes that something else has been going on all along.… ‘It was not you,’ he tells them, ‘who sent me here but God!’”

Memoirists need to be like Joseph. We need to step back and take a long look—a deep, wide, high look.

Memoirists must shun shallow living and superficial thinking.

Memoirists look over their lives and say, “Something else has been going on all along!

“God is … quietly, invisibly, secretly planning our steps; feeding us our lines; moving us into position; unifying everything we do,” writes Kushner.

“…What we thought was an accident was, in truth, the hand of God. Most of the time we are simply unaware. Awareness takes too much effort.… But every now and then we understand, just for a moment, that God has all along been involved in everything. As Rabbi Zaddok HaKohen taught, ‘The first premise of faith is to believe with perfect faith that there is no such thing as happenstance.… Every detail, small or great, they are all from the Holy One.’” (Eyes Remade for Wonder; emphasis mine)

What are you discovering as you write your memoir?

Be a Joseph! What was God doing,
“quietly, invisibly, secretly” to bring you to today?

What was happening around you, 
through you, and even despite you?

What new person have you become?

What new direction has your life taken?

In what ways has your faith changed?

What messages of wisdom and hope can you write
into your memoir for your readers?

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