Stories of love, hate, adultery, deception, and betrayal—it could be any soap opera on the television today. This is a much older production; a
blockbuster told throughout four generations of feisty
and determined women, every one of whom still has
much to teach us.
In the Judaic mystical tradition of Kabbalah, all the
stories of the Bible have allegorical, metaphysical, and
mystical aspects—as well as literal. One of the most
powerful messages throughout both Genesis and
Exodus is the importance of being willing to break
away from the tribe and embrace a new way of thinking
and living. This is what the great mythologist Joseph
Campbell called “the hero’s journey,” a vital part of
spiritual growth. One of the reasons why the biblical
stories of the matriarchs are so heartbreaking is that
they just didn’t get it.
Their story starts with this clear instruction: “The
Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your
kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will
show you’” (Genesis 12: 1).
This can be a difficult message for many people but
it is a rare and wonderful family that encourages
genuine spiritual growth and addresses and resolves
long-standing emotional patterns so they do not
perpetuate through the generations.
Abram and his wife Sarai are half-siblings and most
of the other characters in the stories of the matriarchs
and patriarchs are cousins, so on one level, this
teaching could literally be about widening the gene
pool. Three of the four matriarchs had trouble
conceiving, a well-known result of inbreeding.
Yet the teaching is important psychologically too.
I once heard a speech by cancer surgeon Bernie
Siegel, M.D., author of the 1986 best-selling book
Love, Medicine and Miracles, and one point he
made has stuck in my mind ever since: His research
showed that cancer appeared to be inherited through
adopted families as much as genetic ones because of
the destructive power of repeated negative thoughts
THE LAND YOU SEE
The Hebrew Testament features four matriarchs:
Sarai, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel, and they make every
mistake in the book. To be fair, they are completely
stuck in the tribe—their lives are defined by their
husbands and children—but they are still fabulous
examples of what not to do to create happiness.
There’s another biblical line to add in here to give us a
clue as to where we need to look in our lives. God says,
“All the land that you see I will give to you and your
offspring forever” (Genesis 13:15).
If you apply Unity principles to this, you’ll be able
to perceive both the metaphysical and mystical levels:
Whatever a person focuses on, they will attract. I’ve
often wondered if that could be what Jesus meant when
he said, “Turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5: 39). It’s
generally taught as “submit to the other person” but
what if it means to look in another direction—away
from the evil and toward your good?
This is the challenge of the soul the matriarchs show
us. Instead of focusing on what is wrong in our lives, we
are to look afresh at the world, seeking solutions that
are good for all of us rather than creating more damage
through either allowing the evil or adding more to it.
The lives of Sarai, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel are
those of women who are acting from the everyday
level of survival—as so many people still are today.
It’s about complaining, blaming, and shaming rather
than lighting our own candle in the darkness as we rely
on an extraordinary level of trust in the goodness of
God and the power of healing.
Here’s an example many of us can relate to. Think
about a specific politician, political party, or group that
you very much don’t agree with. Are you blessing them
in their positions and giving them to God every day?
Or are you complaining about them and focusing on
their faults? Which land are you looking at? Whichever
it is, that is the land you are creating in your life and in
the lives of your family and friends around you. Spiritual
work is always about focusing on and developing the
positive and the good rather than the negative. It’s
simple—although, I admit, not easy!
MEET THE MATRIARCHS
The first of the matriarchs, Sarai faced an impossible
situation for one without faith. She was past menopause
Instead of focusing on what is wrong
in our lives,
that are good for all of us …
vve are to look afresh …