Just when we think we have done so much, helped so much, grown so much… there are still miles to go before we sleep.
At the beginning of the portion of Vayeshev, we see that Jacob sought to rest. He felt that he had completed his spiritual work. After all, he’d been married; he had children from which all future nations would come. He’d passed so many difficult tests, and most importantly in doing all of this he brought about the permanence and continuity of the world. What more was there for a man to do? And then, his son Joseph is taken from him. This became Jacob’s point of complacency.
As Robert Frost tell us in the last stanza of the poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
As long as there is the breath of life in our bodies, there is work to be done. It is in the moments when we feel we have nothing left to do that the universe is compelled to send us new challenges so that we might continue to grow.
We can grow proactively, or reactively. By choosing to push ourselves further, we expand our spiritual capacity in a proactive measure. On the other hand, if we choose to rest, in the belief that we have “done enough,” we might find ourselves in a place where we are forced to learn some new lessons, facing new obstacles.
This universally-known law is as beautiful as it is difficult, and certainly begs to be repeated over and over again: Spiritual growth is inevitable. It’s how we chose to grow that is up to us.
This week, there is an energy in the universe that can give us the strength to grow proactively. As the holidays are fast approaching, our inclination may be to relax, stop working so hard, and just enjoy life. This is an opportune time to expand our capacity proactively. Let’s use this week to connect with the true meaning of this season by reaching out to our fellow humans. Even if it seems cliché, put in an extra hour at the office to make someone else’s job a little easier. Give a little more charity to those in need. Lend a hand when yours are already full of things to do. It will help to expand our capacity to reveal more Light for ourselves and the world in the coming year.