When I Go, by Paula Rose Michelson

~~~~~Reflective Question

Has your family faced a situation that made you believe you were the problem?  If so you know more about Naomi’s state of mind than most. If not, you will understand what I mean when you read a portion of Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in Five Chapters. "I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost…I am hopeless. It is my fault. It takes forever to get out. it isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. Is still takes a long time to get out. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in…it’s a habit. My eyes are open; I know where I am: it is my fault. I …."

~~~~~~The Text

When Naomi was young, her family had stayed in one place. As she matured, it seemed to her that they moved from town to town. At fourteen, which was well beyond the age when most took their first communion, she looked at her image in her mamá’s chipped mirror, and noticed that her looks were singularly different. My face carries the map of Israel. I need to leave.

She searched for, and finally found, a way to correct the situation. Eager to stop the guilt she felt for leaving without a word, she consoled herself, When I go, my family will have a normal life. And when mi tío and I have saved enough money, we will send for them. Whenever her longing for her family became unbearable, she would remind herself, They are better off without me. In the silence of her room, she would struggle to stifle her feelings of loneliness, loss, and isolation. Whenever her desire to contact her family overwhelmed her common sense, she would weigh the options between the better life they had and the personal hardship she suffered. Then she would shore up her resolve by reminding herself that only by leaving had she been able to give them the life they deserved. She believed her misery to be a small sacrifice to make for those she loved. Yet during Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, when she took time to meet with God, she found no comfort. This isolation and inability to fulfill my plan is what comes to those who pretend to be what they are not—beloved of God.

She counted each day that passed and hoped that the end of her obligation would hasten. Though her tía was kind to her, she yearned to be free. As the months became years, she saw her dreams diminish while Tía’s needs became her priority. Although the old woman had spoken to her about the blooming process, now a few months shy of twenty, Naomi noticed no changes. She was still the same size and had the same feelings, and longings.

However, as the end of her servitude drew near, she experienced a surge of hope. Driven by her desire for freedom, she tried to learn all she could about the outside world, which she felt ill prepared to venture into since her tía, true to her word, had kept her hidden within the house.

~~~~~~Authors Comment
This is Naomi’s Street.

~~~~~~Authors Question
What street are you walking down?

~~~~~Scriptural Insight
Psalm 119:104-106: I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.

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