“Being centered” is a phrase that is used to connote being at peace, being whole. In mythology, the world has its center as well—a geographic center from which creation flows. In the Jewish tradition this center is Jerusalem—Yerushalayim–the city of peace or wholeness. In Greek mythology that center is Delphi—the center of mother earth. In Delphi there was an oracle who would reveal your future. As the source herself she could know your source.
Delphine was a popular girl’s name at the turn of the 20th century in the United States. By the 1940’s it had plummeted in popularity and has been in decline ever since. In 1942 Brooke Mayo gave her first born the name Dephine as she was handing her over to be adopted. Brooke was 19 at the time. Her pregnancy was the result of a rape. After giving Delphine to the adoption agency she left America to help overseas with the war effort. Upon her return she visited the hospital where she gave birth to Delphine and was told that her baby had died. The oracle would have stopped there if not for Patricia who had always wondered about her birth mother. It took 71 years, but this past December brought Delphine (Patricia) and Brooke together. Patricia had found her Delphic source.
There are many such stories. This one touched me when I read that Brooke had lit a Yahrzeit candle each and every August 12th for her dead baby.
As I was preparing for class last semester I came across a curious teaching about the patriarch Jacob. When Jacob hears that his son Joseph, who he presumed had died, was still alive he packed up and relocated his entire family to be with his beloved son in the land of Egypt. The Torah relates that Jacob lived out the remaining 17 years of his life in Egypt. He dies at age 147. The teaching that intrigued me characterizes those final 17 years as the happiest of Jacob’s long life.
When I read Brooke’s story (she is only 91) I got it. Her spirit, as Jacob of old, was alive again. Her beloved first born was alive and well. As the name Delphine was an oracle for the future of Patricia, the name Joseph, was an oracle as well. Named by his mother Rachel Joseph meant, “Yoseph li” add to me—grant me another son. Rachel’s desire was fulfilled in giving birth to Benjamin. For his father Jacob he would also be a Yoseph—for Joseph would be born again—and in discovering him alive provide Jacob with a new lease on life.
May we enter this New Year with awareness that our hopes and dreams that may have been dashed and we may think are dead can come to life—if we are now ready to welcome them.