Why would I chose the title Next Year in Jerusalem! for my new novel. Why not Forbidden Romance or Romantic Travel or Spiritual Awakenings or Lust, Memories and Old Friends on Facebook? After all Natalie and Maggie are two women, both caught up in issues that many of us face: a somewhat dull but faithful husband; a bad marriage leading finally to a divorce; a desire for adventure; unsatisfied spiritual longings. They have a great friendship with each other, something research keeps confirming, keeps us young and emotionally happy. But life is far from easy for either women.
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So again, why would I focus on a strange title that comes out of a book written thousands of years ago?
Here an answer. Next Year in Jerusalem! is actually a phrase that shows up at the end of the Haggadah. Those of you who are not Jewish may wonder what that is. The Haggadah is a book that the Jews have used for thousands of years to celebrate and relive the Passover experience.
Many people know that the central theme of the story is how the Jews, who were slaves in Egypt, were finally able to escape and began their long journey of 40 years to get to the promised Land, which was Israel. However, what a lot of people don't realize is that this theme is universal and can be taken metaphorically for all of us.
That is why when the Haggadah ends with the fourth glass of wine being drunk, and the words, Next Year in Jerusalem! the phrase becomes so significant.
We all have a struggle in our lives. We all are searching for personal freedom, whether we are unfortunately in a horrible situation, such as a prison, or whether we are simply trying to be true to our own selves as we age and develop. I'm going to talk a lot more about this theme.
To make this point real, let's chat about Elaine
Elaine was having a bad time in her marriage. She had gone to a lecture where the speaker talked about how we all have to go out of our own personal Egypt, at times in our lives. She said that was certainly how she was feeling, struggling through some bad days with her marriage where she often felt criticized or misunderstood. She felt that the language between them no longer worked.
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All words seemed to lead to further arguments and put-downs. She was trying to find ways to honor herself through speaking 'her own language'. Again, I mean that metaphorically. For example, one day she went out with her fiends, shopping and having so much fun. She felt as if she and was leaving her Egypt for a day and meeting her own needs. She could speak in ways that were understood, and relax without fear of conflict. She could laugh. Her friends 'got it' -whatever 'it' was, they all understood each other. She quickly found herself feeling uplifted during that day's outing.
Elaine left her own Egypt, at least for the time being, by maintaining a sense of her own needs and what made her joyful. In her case shopping, good conversation, and laughter with friends was a successful recipe for well-being.