Thursday of the First Week of Lent
Up until recently, when the Book of Esther was discussed, the first image that propelled itself into my thought process was VeggieTales.
I see Mortecai, Esther’s cousin, as a squash, and Esther as this tall thin beautiful asparagus, scared and dependent on those around her. Her people, the Jews, are going to be destroyed because of her squashly kin standing up to the king, who also happens to be her husband.
In the first reading today we see her begging God for help as all her friends' and family’s lives rest in the hands of her husband. She wants an answer, a purpose. She wants to be more than the box of “beautiful woman” that she was placed in during her arranged marriage.
As my image of Esther begins to change from “beautiful asparagus” to “strong, courageous, faith filled woman,” I think of the way we define ourselves. So often we place ourselves in boxes. We want to be “smart” or “athletic,” “holy” or “member of __ club.” But what I find fascinating about Esther’s prayer is that she prayed for a solution that was outside of her hands. Inside of asking God to help her use her box to her advantage, she is asking to be torn from it. She placed the burden of perfection and solution onto God, and God responded.
God didn’t respond with an answer of ease or grace, but instead assigned Esther and her people a job. A three day Fast. Prayer. Almsgiving. Through this experience, this community, the people were renewed in the eyes of those who had pushed them to the margins. They were given a strength that transcends.
This Lent, what strengths are you looking for, and how are you asking for them? As Jesus says in the Gospel “ask and it shall be given to you.” But I invite you this Lenten Season to invite in the courage of Esther, and ask God for the permission to step outside of your comfort zone. Ask for difficult things, or for new ways to grow in your image of God. Invite conversation and community as you begin to explore this new way to converse with God. Let the promise of the resurrection guide growth that is to come.
Abbie Amico is a Junior majoring in Theological Studies.