Pharaoh’s Pandemic

This pandemic came out of the blue in a way which was totally out of our control (even though epidemiologists knew that it probably was about time for something akin to Covid-19 to emerge). Makes me think of the way that the new pharaoh arrived on the scene at the start of the book of Exodus.

At the end of the book of Genesis, Joseph (and his Technicolor Dreamcoat) had helped to bring all of Joseph’s sibs and descendants (the Hebrews) to live in Egypt centuries before, during the famine in Canaan. But we read in today’s lectionary “now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (Exodus 1:8)  Uh-oh.

Just like us living at the start of the pandemic, the comforts and securities that Joseph’s family had enjoyed were about to be disrupted big-time. 

A “pandemic” of fear and hate arrived on the scene unexpectedly with this new pharaoh, and in short order, it demanded the lives of all the Hebrew babies born. Death was everywhere. Change was everywhere. And so was hopelessness. Not living on the front lines of this pandemic myself, I can’t imagine how deep this despair was, which makes the story I’m about to share all the more extraordinary.

There was a Hebrew slave woman, whom tradition calls Jochebed, who was “transformed by the renewing of her mind” (to use Paul’s language from Romans 12:2) and was able to drop her Awareness of the world’s reality down into the Oneness that later Jesus-followers referred to as Christ. And from this perspective of the Unity-Whole-Christness to which Jesus pointed to many years later, (and of which each of us is a beautiful part), Jochebed was able to conceive of a personal response to this dread pandemic of fear and hate that I’m sure seemed crazy to many of her family and friends, had she told them.

She put that which she treasured (her newborn son) into a small basket coated with tar and released him. Wrapped him snugly after feeding him, and with a wet kiss, she PUT HIM IN THE WATER. LET HIM GO INTO CROCODILE-INFESTED WATERS without her.

She relinquished her future into God’s Abundance rather than holding onto things as she wished they would have been.

How did she tap into that kind of Awareness of the Abundance of which this world is made? I’m sure she wasn’t a naive young mom, having lived her life familiar with the cruelties with which Pharaoh enslaved her people. How might we, many of whom have never known the harshness of this woman’s existence, begin to imagine during our own pandemic, trusting differently in the Abundance of Love, from which we all come and to which we all return?

I wonder how Jochebed connected deeply to the divine both within herself and in the world.

  • How did she know when to hold on to her son, and when it was time to let him go?
  • How does any one of us know when it’s time to hold onto those things we treasure so deeply (and which might have defined us for years—our marriage, our work, our beliefs, our assumptions and expectations), and when it’s perhaps time to let them go?
  • When might we no longer need to control things from the point of view of scarcity any longer, (i.e. nothing good could possibly happen if…   or, I could never survive if...)
  • I wonder how Jochebed was able to commit to such a crazy far-fetched idea and not just give up when people told her nothing good would come of it.

What are the practices you are using now during this pandemic for the transformation of your own mind and heart? While it’s always God’s gig to actually DO the healing and transforming for us, there are any number of ways we can help to prime the pump, so to speak. Making space for listening often includes periods of silence in our days and nights, or withdrawing a bit from our steady diet of distraction and entertainment.

There is a Jochebed living inside of you, too. What might you be struggling to release and relinquish to God’s care in a far-fetched way that perhaps no one sees any possibility in except you? Practice the Presence of Christ for a spell and wait to see where the transforming of your mind might just take you during this pandemic of possibilities.

(Just to be sure you know the end of the story from Exodus: Jochebed’s son was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter who ended up PAYING Jochebed to nurse the baby until he was ready to move into the palace as the adopted grandson of Pharaoh (!). The child then was raised as Moses, and in the fullness of time was a major player in getting those enslaved Hebrews to a place called the Promised Land.)

Blessings on your courage this day to dive deep into Abundance Awareness.



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