Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The trouble with Samson

Went to temple over the weekend, just to get another perspective on worship. The haftarah reading was about the birth of Samson, and the rabbi had an interesting take on why Samson turned out to be such a disappointment.

You’ll recall that Samson is the guy with the hair. He’s enormously strong, but also kind of a wild child, known for picking fights and getting involved with the local hussy Delilah. She’s hired by the Philistines to find out what makes Samson so strong, and it’s his hair. She wheedles this secret out of him in a moment of seduction, betrays him, and he’s shaved and imprisoned. But, his hair grows back, so that when he’s chained in the Philistine’s arena between two pillars, he’s able to pull down the pillars, topple the structure, and crush the Philistines. (Read the whole story in Judges 13-16.)

The thing is, he’d been born with such promise. His folks were barren, and had one of those miracle births, complete with an angel coming to tell them and give them instructions. Samson was fated to be one of the judges, or Nazarites, a holy duty. The whole thing worked like clockwork until the boy was actually on the scene. Then he went his own way.

The rabbi at temple explained that to be a Nazarite was a highly respected, very responsible position. The men who did so took an oath and fulfilled a term, sometimes as short as six months. But Samson was supposed to be one “from the womb.” The rabbi made the point that perhaps it was this lack of choice that led to Samson’s wildness. Samson never took the oath, or himself chose to fulfill this duty. Perhaps it was the assumption that Samson would fulfill this role, without Samson’s consent, that caused his rebellion and lascivious behavior.

Of course there’s a message here for parents today. How often do we just assume our kids should adopt our values or hopes for them? Are we actively seeking their perspective on some of these life choices, or would we rather not know they’re secretly just waiting to get out of the house to go their own way? Do we shower them with confidence that they know what’s right for themselves, or do we exude disapproval when their choices differ from ours?

It’s a tough one. I’m finding that I have a list of things I’m liberal about, things I’d steeled myself to respect their differing opinions about, but I also have a list of non-negotiables. And it’s the non-negotiables that challenge me to find respect for them in my heart even when we don’t agree. At some point, not everything they do can be because I’ve given them permission.

The other night, after a great deal of calming prayer and centering myself, I found myself saying, “I don’t like what you’re about to do, I don’t agree that you should do it, but I’m not going to stop you.” The child involved accepted that respectfully, but went anyway—and through circumstances was back home again within ten minutes. I just went, “Huh.”

I love this passage from Science and Health: “Motives and acts are not rightly valued before they are understood. It is well to wait till those whom you would benefit are ready for the blessing, for Science is working changes in personal character as well as in the material universe” (p. 238).

I really need to let Science—meaning to me in this context an individual’s true nature and connection to Spirit—do the heavy lifting. And then, perhaps, my kids won’t turn out like Samson, collapsing a building on top of themselves, but will be more like a David, who only uses weapons he’s proven, or a Jesus, with parents who don’t interfere and do unconditionally support.


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2 Comments:

At 6/13/2006 10:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen!

-ObiDon

 
At 6/14/2006 01:30:00 AM, Blogger Kim said...

this is just a cool entry.

I am taking home with me the idea to let ( great word - let) Science do the heavy lifting.

big smooch to you!

 

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