It's here again.
A celebration of liberation.
A holiday that tells a story.
We were slaves and now we are free.
We sit around a table with family and friends and symbolic foods, reading new versions of the traditional text, performing small rituals in ways that have become rituals of our own.
Sometimes we charge right through it.
Sometimes we stop.
Sometimes the words swirl around us as we search for ways to make them meaningful in our own lives.
What if being a slave is something we embrace?
What if it is something we struggle to embrace?
What if we struggle to free ourselves from the fear of freedom?
"Freedom is a chain", my high school teacher said to illustrate the concept of the oxymoron. Yes, we said, nodding sagely, understanding only some of the implications of the responsibilities that come with freedom. Because of course there is the flip side.
freedom = a chain
a chain = freedom.
At least in our world.
Our alternative, chosen world.
A world where the chain is worn willingly,
is accepted with pride,
is borne with humility
and with the understanding that it, too,
brings with it responsibility.
A world in which I feel an unexpected safety in belonging to a sadist. A world in which his torturous desire to hurt me speaks of his feelings for me, feelings that doom him to wrestling with himself to protect that which he treasures.
I was lucky enough to get to know Laura Antoniou and her wife during the short period of time they were in this area and belonged to my synagogue. A while back they wrote a haggaddah for a leather seder, which includes some commentary connecting power relationships as lived and explored in the BDSM community with the themes and stories we address at this time. You can find a pdf of the book here.
As for me, tomorrow night, as I sit at the table of dear friends who are both leather men and long time AIDS survivors, every time I read the word "slave" my mind will ricochet back and forth between the story of the Exodus from Egypt and my own story of finding freedom in submission to the will of another.
And then I'll remember this.
In the story of the Exodus,
the Jews flee their slavery in Egypt,
of their own free will,
enter in a new covenant of obedience,
accepting the Ten Commandments at the foot of Mount Sinai.
Yes, they say to God.
We are your people,
and we will obey.
Yes, I say to he who is the anchor of my life.
I belong to you.
The struggle will never end.
But I belong to you.
And I will try,
again and again,