“Life is full of … offerings we didn’t ask for, but that are given to us for some mysterious reason that may not be clear to us at first, or ever, and that we need, ultimately, to learn how to receive… What makes this receiving possible is trust: trust that the relationship itself – between God and us – is the most important thing, and the content of the gift is secondary. It is from this place that the Israelites say, before they know what the gift even is – we will receive it. The struggle over learning to see what has been given as a gift will continue…”
I first read these words of Rabbi Joshua Boettiger in his article, “Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather,” published in the Summer 2011 issue of the journal Parabola. The words found me deep in a season of “offerings” for which I had not asked. What the words did for me was to offer an alternative response to that of railing against circumstances or simply nodding at them with mute resignation. Boettiger’s characteristically Jewish way of coming to Scripture and relating both to God and to difficulty redirected my focus from that which I didn’t want to that which I do – God. The reorientation reminds me that it is with this relationship that I have thrown my lot. Over the past two years, new offerings have been “gifted” to me, the meaning of which remains mostly as mysterious as that of their predecessors. On my best days, though, the content of the gifts is beat out by the wonder of the Relationship.