As the history of Israel progresses through the Old Testament, Egypt becomes a symbol of slavery and oppression, a place from which they need to delivered and which ultimately resulted in the Exodus and some great movie footage a few thousand years later.
But Egypt wasn’t always the oppressor or a bad place to be. In fact, there are probably more stories about Egypt being a place of safe haven than otherwise. If one looks back at how Israel ended up in Egypt in the first place, their move to Egypt saved them. Egypt became an incubator for the Jews: they had food to eat, they were nurtured and protected, and they didn’t have to go to war to fight off any of the peoples who occupied the land that had been promised to them. That came later.
What might have happened to them had the “evil brothers” not sold their younger brother Joseph to traders who were going to Egypt and who in turn sold him… and so unfolds a rather amazing series of “coincidences” that end up with Joseph more or less running things in Egypt at about the time the famine breaks out and…
And then we fast forward to somewhere around the cusp of when B.C. became A.D., where we read the story of a new father who follows the advice he is given in a dream to take his wife and young son and flee to Egypt to escape King Herod, who has murder on his mind… and we know how that turned out.
I didn’t mean to do a Bible study here on the morning of the anniversary of the day I got married 42 years ago, but a scene replayed itself here a few weeks ago that reminded me so pointedly of our own “Egypt” experience.
We left California when our boy was about 18 months old and moved to Oregon, where we stayed for about 2 years before we moved here. Oregon became our Egypt. I don’t have to wonder too hard what would have happened had we not fled to “Egypt”: I am almost positive our marriage would not have survived.
We had a good spring for strawberries here and Judy invited me to pick berries because she had more than she knew what to do with. Lucky her. Richard decided to tag along to visit with her husband so off we went. It was still overcast from the rain we had received a day or two earlier and I was soggy from the knees down.
The first place we lived in Oregon was in Lebanon. Strawberries grow quite well in that area of the Willamette Valley – and it only takes a transplanted California girl a few seconds to give away that she is not from Oregon by how she pronounces Willamette and indeed, Oregon. The town still has an annual Strawberry Festival.
U-Pick was a way for small landowners to earn extra money in the late 1970s when we were living there, and perhaps it still is. I was more than happy to go into the field and pay for the strawberries I picked.
But our Oregon experience wasn’t mainly about exchanging big city living for rural life and picking fruit and vegetables and learning to can and butchering chickens. It was about the incredible, nurturing friendships we developed among the Mennonite people who lived in the Willamette Valley, and who welcomed us into their homes and into their lives. It was about us being able to start over in a new place so we could stop the destructive cycle that was on the verge of destroying our marriage.
We wanted to stay in Oregon in the worst way, and I am not sure now why it was that we were not able to do that… but we ended up here…
I noticed one thing several hours after we came home from Judy’s with the strawberries.
There was a lot less pain associated with inching down the rows of strawberries when I was 30 years old than there was at 60 something.
My husband has surprised me with an adventure today... and so off we go…