Before I embraced stoicism, worry over just about anything was second nature to me. Interestingly, I didn't go looking for it like it was the solution to my challenges, rather I'd studied my situation and decided on the approach to respond, before I found that I shared the same approach and philosophy with stoics from time immemorial till date, the world over. I will use Babylon to refer to that particular challenge, that may appear preeminent over every other challenge we may have in life. The sort that people may use to project validation on us, like we haven't arrived till such a thing have happened to us, come upon us, or be achieved by us. Let me give you a brief lowdown on my choice of Babylon to describe what I am qwertying about here. At some point in Judah's history, and I'm referring to biblical accounts for this purpose, they had to be exiled to Babylon. They had several personal and individual challenges, as well as communal and national, but none rivalled the heartache they nursed by reason of their exile, even while it was impending. Prophets took advantage of the desperation of the people (much like they still do today, when approached by desperate people over a most distressing aspect of their lives), to tell them that YAHWEH will definitely deliver them from the hands of Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar, even when it was clearly against HIS wishes, as diligently and succinctly delivered prophetically by Jeremiah to much and great harm to his person, at the hands of the king and elite of Judah at the time, seeing as they had so much to lose. Life virtually stopped for many of them once exile became the thing. Much respected and high official of Jewish descent, in Nebuchadnezzar's government (in exile in Babylon), Daniel couldn't even pray without facing Jerusalem. Some others couldn't (as portrayed in the Book Of Psalms) even sing YAHWEH's song in "a strange land". I could surmise that even breathing became a chore for most Jews, just because they were in Babylon. The same applies to many of us today, like it did to me sometime ago. I tended to relegate other aspects of my life to the background, like they didn't equally matter, or matter at all, in pursuit of that one thing that continues to elude me, even to the extent of allowing people to project my Babylon as the most important thing in life, without which I couldn't be considered to have lived (fully). But Jeremiah, proclaimed a message from YAHWEH, fit for that time as now, that'll leave stoics green with envy as to its "stoicness". He encouraged his fellow Jewish exiles to "build houses, dwell in them, plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; to take wives, beget sons and daughters, take wives for their sons, give their daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters, that they may increase there and not diminish" (Jeremiah 29:5-6). In essence, they should, and must enjoy life, in spite of their exile situation, that is to say, no other aspects of their life should suffer because of the preeminence of the challenge that their exile in Babylon poses. That is my message to you today, as is for me as well. It is true that the Jews eventually returned after seventy years, but not many of them who witnessed the exile, lived to see the return, meaning that not many of us will outlive our Babylons. Which is why I have since resolved never to allow my life revolve around my Babylon. The Jews who embraced the message and the ideology of it, thrived and excelled. Many of them, even made it into government of the nations that exiled them. Names like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (with Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who even at the risk of losing their lives, refused to compromise on their principles), easily come to mind. Others like Esther and Mordecai became prominent under Xerxes' rule in Persia, while Ezra and Nehemiah shone brightly under Cyrus, till the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple, including the rehabilitation of exiles. Other less known personalities like Tobit, and his son Tobias did their own bit, in their own corner to make the best of their lives, despite the atmosphere of encumbrance that exile imposed on them physically and psychologically. The fact that they lived in spite of their condition didn't stop them from hoping though, such that by the time Jews were exiled a second time in 70AD, two thousand years in exile wasn't enough to douse the flame of desire to return to their homeland. In conclusion, I'd like to encourage us to heed Jeremiah's message, and while not ignoring our Babylons totally, to LIVE and find FULFILMENT in spite of them. If peradventure we live to see an end to our exile, then that'll be a good cause for celebration, otherwise we must understand without bitterness that that state of affairs wasn't meant to be, and go on to ensure that our lives aren't and won't be measured (especially largely or in the main) by the story of our exile. The names I've mentioned above, amongst others didn't allow the narratives of their existences be about their exile, we shouldn't let ours be that as well. There surely is more to our lives than those needs of ours that don't look likely to be met, therefore they need not define us. *sips Al-Iksir* 'kovich PICTURE CREDIT: - -

Published by m'khail madukovich