Sacred Anger

Moses mosaic on display at the Cathedral Basil...
Image via Wikipedia

The last time I wrote about Moses, I questioned the motives of his “temper tantrum”  at the foot of Mt. Sinai by suggesting, in part, that his anger might have less to do with the golden calf and more to do with his position of power.  I can certainly imagine in my mind the feelings of sadness, confusion and abandonment Moses might have felt on his return from 40 days of alternating between direct revelation from God and struggling with the understandings and implications of these same revelations.  Making sense out of chaos and fulfilling his responsibility to the Hebrew people and to God were surely at the forefront of his thoughts, and then to see that “his people” were in the process of replacing him, must have felt like daggers to his heart.  Talk about going from a “mountain top” experience to ground zero!  Understandably, Moses’ anger got the best of him.  He smashed the stone tablets into pieces that were seemingly irreparable.  He broke God’s Law literally.

Something that our Christian bibles leave out, but which is embraced by Jewish tradition is that two sets of tablets were carried in the Ark of the Covenant.  The fragments of the first set were placed along side the completed second version.  Why might this be.  Why include one that lain in ruins and the other completely in tact?

Could one possibility be to remember that in our brokenness we can be made whole?   Moses’ heart was shattered in those stone tablets.  He found a way of dealing with the hurt and the anger by transforming them from brokenness to wholeness, from unintelligible to intelligible, from scattered revelation to sacred revelation.  Richard Rohr in “Things Hidden Scripture as Spirituality’ calls this process “making our wounds into sacred wounds”.  It’s about finding a deeper meaning to life’s hurts and disappointments and transforming that into something positive for the greater good of ourselves, our children, and the generations that follow.  In short, it is walking in the wilderness of our lives and remaining open to what it teaches us.


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