I’ve been a hospital chaplain now for eight years at hundreds of deathbeds. I want to tell you something I’ve witnessed.
Most people, at the end, realize they’ve spent a lot of their life hiding. Sometimes by choice, or because they could not safely choose to be themselves.
At a deathbed, if my patient can communicate, they show they’re dying two deaths: the one they’re dying & then the death of the life they really wanted to live.
But in their dying, some are also free. To tell me who they are. What they wanted. Who they had to hide. Finally free.
Once, my patient, as he was dying, told me something like this: “What was I so afraid of? All the people that I lived for are dead now, too.”
This is a morbid thought, harsh, & very real.
I catch their dying dreams as they sail off into the unreturned. I am a last witness.
Not everyone is able to fully embody themselves, achieve their dreams, pursue their goals, for all sorts of reasons, systemic & traumatic.
I hope to fight & right these inequities.
And at death, if I can help my patient be themselves, even for the briefest moment — I will.
I’ve said it before & will again:
I’ve heard so many regrets.
Please. I plead with you. Live deeply. You may be young now, but it goes. Fast. It is a breath. Do not waste time on everyone else’s vision for you. I know it is not this easy. In all the ways you can, please be here.
When my daughter was 18 months old, she figured out how to get out of her crib. Every time we put her in it, she found her way out. She’ll turn up at our room grinning with pride because she “escaped.” It was frustrating, but we got used to it. Everything was okay until one day…
I was downstairs in the kitchen and heard a BANG! A few seconds later, I heard TEARS and it was all I needed to know that our special climber had fallen during one of her escape missions. I ran upstairs & was relieved because the fall wasn’t too bad. Her leg had simply slipped.
It was more the shock and the unexpected nature of the fall that had her CRYING so loudly. It was understandable. Of course I gave lots of hugs and kisses until she calmed down. Needless to say, she refused to climb out of her crib after that.
Her crib is big and she still uses it. So for a whole year, she never took the risk of climbing out of the crib. Not because she didn’t know how to but because the trauma from her previous fall had her locked in a prison of fear. I tried many times but it was always a NO!
I have thought about this often. How traumatic experiences keep us bound. We don’t become all that we have been created to be because the fear of failure or pain is overwhelming. We hide our potential and pretend we don’t know it exists because it is safer that way.
At some point, we have to decide: “Would I rather try & fail or stay where I am and never be more?” God has placed so much in our hearts, but like the children of Israel, we let the fear of the unknown stop us. We just keep thinking, “What if it doesn’t work?”
But what if it does?
Today, my daughter climbed out of her crib again after over a year of being too afraid. She was ready! I noticed she climbed with a bit more caution & with a new strategy. So maybe the fall was the lesson she needed to do things “better.” Her fall was not so bad after all.
I don’t know what you have experienced or what you are dealing with, but I feel I should remind you that what does not destroy you can only make you stronger. It is time for you to face your fear and try again. It’ll either work out brilliantly or you’ll learn something.
For that person who God is calling to take bold, scary steps of Faith! Don’t let past disappointment, trauma, or even “failure” make you doubt that God is on your side and He is with you. Greater is He who is in you than anything in this world. It’s time to go again!
P.S. This is also for me. I haven’t been able to write anything for weeks, and it got harder to try. I literally wrote this because I had to accept that it won’t be perfect, but I didn’t want my fear to stop me. Praying this helps someone!
It’s my birthday. I’m 37 and I have some things I’d like to share, in no particular order.
1. No one thinks about you more than you do. That thing from two years ago that keeps you up at night? No one else remembers. Honor the memory and let it go.
2. Have fun. Every day. I’ve had enough friends pass away too young to know that nothing is promised. Enjoy the moment.
3. Tell people you love them. Often. Even if you feel awkward. Your love is worth sharing.
4. You’re enough. I don’t care what your parents told you. Or your teachers. Or anyone else.
You. Are. Enough.
You are worthy. And you deserve love.
5. Fucking go for it. Whatever it is. Just try. Maybe you make it. Maybe you don’t. The result isn’t the point.
Your journey, your growth, is the important bit. Don’t let anyone convince you shouldn’t try. Their fear is theirs, it’s not yours to carry.
6. Some people are gonna hate you. And a lot of folks aren’t gonna like you. The brighter you shine, the more shadows you cast. Let their hate be your fuel. You’ve got shit to do.
7. Floss. Seriously, floss.
8. Investing in yourself is always the best choice. Bet on yourself. Get that extra education. Switch careers. Learn a new thing. Write the book. Your future depends on you continuing to learn and grow.
9. Try things you suck at. It unlocks different parts of your brain. It humbles you. It eliminates perfectionism. Take pottery lessons. Or dancing. Be the worst in the class. And learn not to care.
10. Your skin is important. Wear sunscreen. Moisturize. Take care of it.
11. There is no right age to have kids. If you want kids, have them. It’s gonna be a shitshow no matter what you do. You’ll figure it out as you go. If you don’t want kids, I love you too.
12. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And it’s totally worth it. The foundation of parenting is loving them, accepting them, protecting them, and showing the fuck up.
13. No one’s gonna give you the raise. Or the promotion. Or the new job. It’s always gonna be a fight. So fucking fight.
14. Your body is one of the most glorious things on earth. Every wrinkle and mark and scar and jiggle is a story. And you know how much I love stories.
15. Read. And expose yourself to ideas that challenge you, even ones that make you angry.
16. No one’s got it figured out. Everyone is bumbling through life. It’s just some people are better at making bumbling look put together.
17. Bring others with you. Wherever you’re going. You need their perspective. And it’s more fun anyway.
18. Walk. Our bodies are great at it. And you’ll feel better.
19. Don’t over pluck your eyebrows.
20. Learn to cook. And season your food. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder are the bare minimum. Paprika, parsley, lemon — there’s endless choices! Be adventurous. White food is sad food.
21. Stand in grass (or sand, or dirt) barefoot. It feeds your soul. Don’t stand in poison Ivy. That itches.
22. Save money. Don’t chase the spending habits of others.
23. Take vacations. Spend the money to treat yourself. Go somewhere new. Take people with you. Enjoy yourself. Make memories. Take photos. Make photo books.
24. Be wary of hype. It comes and goes quickly.
25. Friendships come and go. Releasing a friendship doesn’t mean it didn’t matter. It just means it no longer serves you.
26. Your body likes vegetables. Eat them occasionally.
27. Drink some water.
28. Shame is a weapon others use to control you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Set yourself free.
29. You’ll never regret saying nothing in a heated moment.
30. If you’re ever arrested, shut the fuck up. Get a lawyer.
31. There’s no shame in being fired. Or let go. The most successful people take risks. Sometimes that means getting fired. Keep taking risks.
32. Sunshine is important. Let the sun dance on your face. You have sunscreen on, remember?
33. Don’t start fights you can’t finish.
34. Never ever ever prioritize someone else’s comfort over your safety. Scream. Yell. Make a scene.
35. Tip generously. Say thank you. Chew with your mouth closed.
36. Weaponizing sophistication makes you look small. Using big words to make others feel stupid makes you an asshole.
37. You are magnificent. And utterly unique. Step into your power. The power that lives deep inside your soul.
This is an interesting conversation. There are a few points I disagree with both the host and guest on, but overall valid points are made.
Where they missed the boat
They think Black People have been colonized to the point of not being able to do basic human things, like dream of good futures. For example, Black People do dream and we do have goals beyond consuming material items. however, many Black People are beaten down by the system these two describe so well. The beat down deadens the dream, blinds the vision and kills hope. But none of that destroys the shadow, impression or memory of the dream. All a seed needs is proper watering and a bit of sun.
Also, we don’t all see ourselves as white people see us. These two are advocating alternative thinking to create alternative financial systems but they are still judging their own people by the enslavers’ narrative. What good is thinking a new way and doing new things if your treatment of the people you propose to do new things with is based in the denigrating mentality of enslavers?
Mwandiambira also thinks money’s purpose is to enslave people, i.e. get money, get slaves. He’s preaching capitalism out of one side of his mouth while insisting an alternative system is needed where Black People will have the money to enslave other people (of any race). That’s not an intention I’ve ever heard from a Black person. Most people I’ve talked to, no matter skin, age, background, want to have enough money to do and live as they want. To pay for their life needs and enjoy life. That’s what I want.
People have lost respect for money
— Money is a tool that should be mastered
— Money is a tool that should be mastered
— He says to enslave others to capitalism. I disagree. Money should be understood and mastered to pay for the things your life requires and to fund the things your purpose requires.
— Money existed before capitalism.
African common wealth system.
— Livestock and grains belonged to everyone in village
— Families lived, worked and prospered together
They (Europeans) taught us (Africans) what we needed to know from their perspective. They didn’t teach us about who we are or even how we got our freedom.
The biggest disruptor for anyone is poverty. Once you have lack, your mind pops like a popcorn.
Financial decline makes people start thinking: what else, where else can I be? Migration.
We can create a different financial system. They have taken away our minds to think of alternatives. They have taken us to a space where we just have to conform. How can we change the system for us?
Wealth is created. It will not run out.
How can we do things differently so that our eyes see what can empower us? Our ears hear what can empower us? Our mouths speak words that build.
We’ve been taught to hate ourselves. How do we start loving ourselves first. Start there. Then we start hearing and seeing things differently. Start speaking words of edification and our hands will start doing things that are positive.
Wealth is created by traveling. Money knows no borders. The reason why we don’t know how much money Europeans stole from Africa is because we’ve never been to their countries to see what they took.
In order to understand money, travel. Once you travel, you get perspective. Once you have perspective you get vision. Once you have vision, you can have admission. Once you have admission, you can do it. Now, if you don’t travel, you will sit and consume what’s fed to you. The narrative is not under your control.
We need to embrace and understand those who traveled, why they came.
They took away our tongues; we don’t even tell our own stories anymore.
Self-hate has led to self-distrust.
We see ourselves how they portray us.
Mansa Musa, a Malian Emperor, wealthiest known man in history (34:00m)
— Pilgrimage to Mecca bankrupted Egyptian economy by giving gold to every poor person he saw.
How does an economy function?
— Economia: study of lack: you can not have an economy if someone is not lacking.
— Because Mansa Musa canceled the lack in Egypt, money could not flow.
— The moment you find equilibrium, you cannot have an economy. The system does not function.
— African economies were not built on lack. They were built on wealth. Abundance. Riches. Our African economic model was built on wealth giving birth to more wealth.
In no way can I claim to be a follower or supporter of the British royal family, yet, after the death of Princess Diana, Prince Harry’s mother, I, like many others around the world touched on media updates to see how her lads were doing. It has done my spirit good to hear Harry share his story.
My review can be summed up in two words: Absolutely beautiful.
Harry is a natural storyteller with a good sense of humor. The arch of his life, identity, growth, maturity, awareness, and manhood are clear and earnestly shared. He doesn’t bash anyone or share intimate details about his familial relationships. However, what he does share of familial interactions is very sad and poignant, unintentionally so, I’m sure. His earnestness creates an intimacy with readers/listeners. [Note: I listened on Audible and am extremely glad for the experience of hearing him tell his story in his own words.]
In retrospect, for those hating on him and saying he shouldn’t talk about his family, his memoir could be described as a rebuttal to media accounts of his life as he appears to stay true to a timeline of headlines covering the twenty-five years leading up to the book. His primary focus is sharing his state of mind, physical location, and emotional environment to provide his perspective and understanding of the stories about him. Unfortunately for the naysayers, these media episodes obviously touch on his family relationships.
During the initial listen, I cried three times. (1) When Harry and Meghan received unexpected help from a benefactor after begging for help from, and being denied by, his father, brother and queen grandmother. (2) The last time he said, “I’ll keep you safe.” (3) His last line in the book. While re-listening to segments for this review, I’ve cried at almost everything I replayed.
The overall gravity of Harry and Meghan’s situation, the petty selfishness and mean-spirited jealousies in his family, the absolute absurdity of this family ruling most of the world for more than a millennia with its myopic dysfunction and self-hatred is astounding. A line of people who have no respect for themselves, their spouses, children, brothers, sisters, etc. have been conquering and dividing the world into parcels since 1066. They’ve created cultures, laws, societies and hierarchies among peoples around the globe. All while being completely opposed to expressing basic human emotion. A touch or a hug for a grandchild – unthinkable! A father protecting his sons from watching their mother’s death on TV – what could be done? A brother embracing his sister-in-law rather than smearing her and her future children in the media – it’s how it’s always been. The British Royal Family eats its own. How could their 1200 year reign possibly result in a better world?
Unfortunately, like most of us mortals, Harry’s not so good at deciphering the heart and motives of his loved ones. For most of the book, I talked back in frustration, voicing the treachery he had to be aware of on some level, but didn’t want to call out directly.
However, when he was forced to the point of understanding, he elucidated how he came to the point of separating from his dysfunctional family in favor of protecting his wife and children. When Harry and Meghan were first ousted from the royal family, I began to pay attention to their story. What struck me was the fact that a Black Woman was so hated and vilified that her husband, a member of the most well-known, powerful and wealthiest families in the history of the world – the second son of a future king – could not keep his wife safe. Not only that, he feared his wife would die as his mother had because of the relentless hounding and vitriol of the paparazzi which went unchecked by his father and brother (both heirs to the throne). He shared his fear openly in real time. Imagine, having the ability to ask for and receive anything your mind could conjure, but security and safety for your wife was prohibited. She was deemed too much of an expense to house, clothe, feed and protect.
“Pa was cutting me off. I recognize the absurdity, a man in his mid-thirties being financially cut off by his father. But Pa wasn’t merely my father. He was my boss, my banker, my comptroller. Keeper of the purse strings throughout my adult life. Cutting me off, therefore, meant firing me. Without redundancy pay and casting me into the void after a lifetime of service. More, after a lifetime of rendering me otherwise unemployable. […] Sponge, the papers called me. There’s a big difference between being a sponge and being prohibited from learning independence. After decades of being rigorously and systematically infantilized, I was now abruptly abandoned, mocked for being immature, for not standing on my own two feet.”
Harry represented himself well. I do hope he sees himself as a human being who has value simply because he exists regardless of his birth into this family and his role in other people’s lives.
Charles: Pa, Boss and Comptroller
Even in his austere aloofness, the former Prince of Wales and current King Charles III comes across as a father who was willing to love and be present if only he could manage it. Unfortunately, for him and his children, his understanding of love and presence is cold and comfortless. Charles is only mentioned as Pa in the Spare. Pa is spoken with reverence, respect, pain and bewildered disillusionment. Pa is often spoken as a plea.
“Pa and Willy had their parts to play and they came ready for a fight. ‘Please, boys! Don’t make my final years a misery.’ His voice sounded raspy. Fragile. It sounded, if I’m honest, old.
I looked at Willy. Really looked at him, maybe for the first time since we were boys.[…] In some ways he was my mirror. In some ways he was my opposite. My beloved brother. My arch nemesis. How had that happened? I was massively tired. I wanted to go home and I realized what a complicated concept ‘home’ had become. Or maybe it always was.
‘If they didn’t know why I had left, maybe they just didn’t know me, at all. Maybe they never really did. And to be fair, maybe I didn’t either. I have to tell them. And so, Pa, Willy, World, here you go.'”
So begins the epic retelling of a life from in front of many lenses.
“Journalists are the scum of the earth, but…,” Charles said to his sons in Frogmore gardens following his father’s funeral.
“There was always a but with Pa when it came to the press. He hated their hate, but oh, how he loved their love. One could make the argument that therein lie the seeds of the problem, indeed all problems going back decades. Deprived of love as a boy, bullied by schoolmates, he was dangerously, compulsively drawn to the elixir they offered him. He cited grandpa as a sterling example of why the press wasn’t anything to get too vexed about. Poor grandpa had been abused by the papers most of his life, but now look, he was a national treasure. The papers couldn’t say enough nice things about the man!
‘So that’s it then? Just wait till we’re dead and all will be sorted?’
‘If you could just endure it, Darling Boy, for a little while. In a funny way they’d respect you for it. […] You must understand, Darling Boy, The Institution can’t just tell the media what to do.’
I yelped with laughter. It was like Pa saying he couldn’t just tell his valet what to do.”
Diana: Morning Star
“Wherever mommy was, I understood she was with her friend.”
Harry doesn’t hold any surface or tactile memories of his mother. The way he speaks of her is as an ethereal being who was known to have existed on earth but is hiding away for safety. Named after a goddess and titled as princess, neither stylings are grand enough for his memory of her personhood. Earendel, an indescribably large star discovered in 2022 by the Hubble Space Telescope, is the oldest known star to have existed close to the moment of creation and is called the Morning Star. “That was my mother,” Harry says quietly.
In his late twenties, Harry sought proof of Diana’s actual death. Up to that point, he did not consider her dead, only away. He imagined she was hiding from the paparazzi. Believed she would one day return to whisk him and his brother away to be with her in hiding. He asked a member of his security team for the file on his mother’s car crash hoping to clear any questions he had. Harry reports, “The file proved nothing, other than Mummy was in a car crash. After which she looked unharmed. Slumped over in the back of the car. While those who chased her continued to harass her. Rather than proof, I discovered more reason for rage. It wasn’t a mist. It was a torrent.”
Paris police had seized the cameras of the paparazzi on the scene. The images showed chaos. Onlookers. A deceased Dodi and driver. Hurt bodyguard. Deceased Diana. Flashing lights created auras on the printed images. The file contained police photos of the scene and images from the frenzied photographers who chased Diana to her death. Those men never stopped photographing her even in the aftermath of the crash they caused. She landed between the seats and was clearly unconscious or semi-conscious.
“No one checked on her. Offered her help or comforted her. They were just shooting. Shooting. Shooting. I hadn’t known. I hadn’t dreamed. I’d been told that paps chased Mummy like a pack of wild dogs, but I never dared to imagine that like wild dogs, they also feasted on her defenseless body. I hadn’t been aware before this moment, that the last thing Mummy saw on this earth, was a flash bulb.”
When he was twenty-three, Harry went to the World Cup in Paris. While there, he asked his assigned driver to drive up and down that same tunnel at 65 miles per hour (the speed Diana supposedly died at) in an attempt to understand how something so routine could be so life-altering. He was not convinced events happened as reported.
Identity is problematic
“Two years older than me, Willy was the heir and I was the spare. This wasn’t merely how the press referred to us, though it was definitely that. This was shorthand often used by Pa, Mummy and Grandpa and even Granny. There was no judgment about it. But also, no ambiguity.
I was the shadow, the support, the Plan B. I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy. I was summoned to provide back-up. Distraction and diversion. And if necessary, a spare part. A kidney perhaps, blood transfusion, spec of bone morrow. This was all made explicitly clear to me from the start of life’s journey and regularly reinforced thereafter.
I took no offense. I felt nothing about it. Any of it. Succession was like the weather. Or the positions of the planets. Or the turn of the seasons. Who had the time to worry about things so unchangeable? Who could bother with being bothered by a fate etched in stone?
Being a Windsor meant working out which truths were timeless and then banishing them from your mind. It meant absorbing the basic parameters of one’s identity knowing by instinct who you were, which was forever a byproduct of who you weren’t. I wasn’t Granny. I wasn’t Pa. I wasn’t Willy. I was third in line behind them.”
During his gap year, he worked a cattle farm in Australia. He had planned on six months in the outback, but the ranch was infiltrated by paparazzi. He left early. However during his time, he acquired new habits, dressing style and a new nickname, Spike.
“I became Spike, when I wasn’t Haz, Baz, Prince Jackeroo, Harold, Darling Boy or Scrawny. Identity had always been problematic, but with a half dozen formal names and a full dozen nicknames, it was turning into a hall of mirrors. Most days I didn’t care what people called me. Most days I thought ‘Don’t care who I am so long as it’s someone new. Someone other than Prince Harry.”
Harry speaks of several women he dated as being guide stones in his evolution. Each one highlighted a part of himself he was unaware of or hadn’t been able to access prior to the relationship. The first girlfriend Harry mentions is Chelsea, whom he was drawn to because she was different from the people in his circle. She was South African and preferred her home to Britain. She was unconcerned with appearances, propriety, and royalty. He was enraptured. During his time with Chelsea, he says:
“I had no talent, so I’ve been told. Again and again. And thus all reactions to me had nothing to do with me. They were down to my family. My title. And consequently, they always embarrassed me because they were so unearned. I’d always wanted to know what it might be like to meet a woman and not have her eyes widen at the mention of my title. But instead widen them myself using my mind, my heart. With Chelsea, that seemed a real possibility.”
Another girlfriend helped him cry for the first time since his mother’s death. It was then that he began to accept that Mummy was not going to return. He was encouraged to seek counseling. He did so.
One day while scrolling his Instagram feed, Harry came across a filtered video of his friend Violet with a woman he had never seen.
“I’d traveled the world from top to bottom. Literally. I’d hopscotched the continents. I’d met hundreds of thousands of people. […] For thirty-two years, I’d watched a conveyor belt of faces pass by and only a handful ever made me look twice. This woman stopped the conveyor belt. This woman smashed the conveyor belt to bits. I’d never seen anyone so beautiful. Why should beauty feel like a punch in the throat?
I never had a firm answer to that burning question: Is there just one person on this earth for each of us? But in that moment, I felt there might be only one face for me. This one. I sent Violet a message: WHO. IS. THIS. WOMAN?”
He had an instant response to Meghan’s face. She exuded energy, joy, playfulness, confidence and a sense of freedom.
You’re free! Fly away!
Frogmore was special to Harry. It held one of his favorite cemetery’s and was one of the first places he lived with Meghan. he thought it would be their forever home before they had to flee the country. Following his grandfather’s funeral, he still sought Frogmore’s cemetery – for a walk with his father and brother, and for his final resting place – “…because the gardens were lovely and it seemed peaceful.”
On remembering a happy day with Willy – a transcendent moment that led to the rarest of things: a long tight hug with his brother:
“Now I saw that even our finest moments, my best memories somehow involved death. Our lives were built on death. Our brightest days were shattered by it. Looking back, I didn’t see spots of time, but dances with death. I saw how we steeped ourselves in it. […] Windsor castle itself was a tomb. The walls filled with ancestors. The Tower of London was held together with the blood of animals. […]Outsiders called us a cult. But maybe we were a death cult. Wasn’t that a little more depraved?
Even after laying Grandpa to rest, had we not had our fill? Why were we here? Lurking on the edge of that undiscovered country from whose born, no traveler returns.
Eh, maybe that was a more apt description of America. My father and brother were talking over each other. I was no longer listening. I was already gone. Already on my way to California. A voice in my head saying, ‘Enough death! Enough! When is someone in this family going to break free and live?'”
Upon leaving his father and brother in the cemetery, Harry walked to Frogmore Cottage and was greeted at the door with a long hug from his wife, Meghan. Listening, one could tell all was right with his world in that moment.
Seventeen months after his grandfather passed, Harry was notified that his Granny was gone.
“Pa was king.”
Harry: A Man. Not a Spare.
Harry likens California to life. By extension one can also hear that he sees Meghan and America as givers of life also. Speaking of the past, of honoring long-dead ancestors with bows, and salutes while passing monuments in their image, it’s easy to see how generations became mired in death and stuck in the ways of the deceased.
Spare begins with an institutional family meeting where Harry is resented for expecting and seeking his individuality. Where he confronted his punishers for retaliating against him for attempting to live his life on his terms with a partner of his choosing. We can all understand why Charles would be resentful. He was denied his choice for most of his life. The book also highlights why William is resentful – as the heir, he’s held to a stricter rule than Harry. Being his own man was never on the table for William.
Spare ends with the realization of life being an active choice. By remaining in the traditions he was raised in, death had become part of everything. Ancestors were buried in houses; walls were held together with blood. Images of the dead were on walls and standing in corners. Harry wasn’t aware of an option other than death worship. Tradition had taught him he was only in the world to support the lives of his superiors, not to live his own life. Tradition had taught him to put the crown and institution before self and family. Tradition had taught him that obedience to duty came before everything. There was a pecking order to obedience. His brother was above him. His father was above his brother. His granny was above everyone. If granny said yes, it didn’t matter what the other two said. Yet his brother could still physically assault him and threaten him with no consequences. His father could still remove his protection to bring him into obedience as he saw fit.
Then Meghan came along. A Black Woman who had made a name and career for herself crossed his line of sight. Someone he connected with whom he had a great deal in common. Someone who exuded life and joy. Someone who demanded to be respected for who they were, not because of their name or position. A humane human with a good heart. Harry became smitten and developed a new life-focused purpose.
Harry had tested his constraints throughout his life. But he had tested with mischief. He had played at being naughty and shocking. He had explored options within the parameters set for him. Because of the way his family treated Meghan, he had to think in a new way and explore options outside of everything he had ever known. In doing so, he learned more independence than he thought possible. More importantly, he learned, experienced, and embraced love. Love for himself, his wife, their relationship. Love has expanded Harry into a protector, a provider, a man, a husband, and a father.
In the last minutes of his story, Harry describes his daughter’s birth. He shares his verbal greeting and his desire to welcome Lilibet skin to skin. He shares that later, as he and Meghan laid skin to skin, she spoke his testimony to him, words he now hold sacred. “That was everything. That is a man. My love, that is not a spare.”
This is such a great read on Adam, Eve, and the Serpent from a Hebrew speaker’s perspective. It provides some interpretation I’ve never heard but can certainly appreciate. It also walks along tangents of research I’ve done on my own on Adam and Eve. Why Read The Bible In Hebrew?
Originally posted on Twitter by Ari Lamm on February 3, 2023
Let’s talk about one of the most iconic villains in world history—the Serpent from the Book of Genesis.
Why exactly was the Serpent out to get Adam and Eve? A thread (for non-Hebrew readers, too!) 🧵 1
I know what you’re gonna ask. Isn’t the serpent just Satan—or the inclination to do evil—given flesh?
I do think there’s truth to this!
But, the Bible doesn’t say this. In the text itself, the snake is just… a snake. So why does it bother trying to get Adam and Eve to sin? 2
In order to answer this question, we need to ask a preliminary question:
Why does the text of Genesis seem out of order?
In Gen 2, we first hear about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So then, right away, we get to the story of the serpent, right?
Instead, we get this odd intermission (2:18-25) that begins with God’s observation, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner”.
Easy fix, right? God just needs to create Woman!
…well, not so fast. What’s God’s next move? 4
At first, God offers Adam the choice of a soulmate from among the animal kingdom!
“So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man…but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner” (2:19-20). 5
Bizarre, no? How could this be?
To answer, we need to identify the central question at the heart of the Bible’s account of Creation:
What is humanity?
Are we godlike beings, fundamentally different from animals? Or are we glorified animals, fundamentally different from God? 6
In the first two chapters of Genesis, the Bible actually gives us both perspectives.
On one hand, humans are unique. We’re different—in kind, not just degree—from the animals.
Think back, e.g., to Genesis 1. Unlike any other being, “God created humans in his image” (1:27) 7
And while the views of Creation in Gen 1 and 2 differ, the Bible clearly intends them to be read as one. Just look at the Hebrew of Gen 2:4
“These are the generations (elleh toledot) of the heavens and the earth when they were created (b-r-‘).” 8
For years commentators have wondered, is this verse the end of Gen 1 or the beginning of Gen 2?
On one hand, it uses the verb for “create” (b-r-‘) characteristic of Gen 1, but not Gen 2. On the other, the phrase “elleh toledot” always—no exceptions—*begins* a story. 9
The obvious answer is: it’s both—it’s the bridge verse that ties Gen 1 and Gen 2 together. So yes, the humans of Gen 2 are the same divine-image bearing humans of Gen 1.
Moreover, even in Gen 2, God creates humanity before any other being (2:7).
Humanity is clearly special! 10
And this, of course, is why Man can’t find a soulmate from among the animals. They’re simply too removed from him.
In fact, there is no being in creation fit to partner with us other than…us.
…And this explains one of the most famous mistranslations in Biblical history. 11
How did God create Eve? He made her from Adam’s rib, right?
Here’s the verse: “The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man…He took one of his ribs…And the rib (tzela) that the Lord God had taken from the man He made (va’yiven) into a woman” (2:21-22). 12
Wait, but doesn’t that say God made Eve from Adam’s rib?
The Hebrew word being translated as “rib” here is “tzela”. But it only means that in much later Hebrew (like *way* after the Bible).
In the Bible itself, however, it never takes that meaning. 13
In the Bible, the word “tzela” is actually always an architectural term. It means “side”.
The next time we meet this word in the Bible, it’s in constructing the Ark of the Covenant: “two rings on one side (tzela) of it and two rings on the other side (tzela)” (Exodus 25:12). 14
So “tzela” refers to one part of a building that, when you fit it together with the other part, forms a whole.
And that’s clearly the meaning in Genesis! How do I know? Well, remember the Hebrew word the Bible uses for “made” (as in “made into a woman”)?
It’s “va’yiven”. 15
That root (b-n-h) quite literally means “to build” in the architectural sense!
So God didn’t make Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Rather, He split the first human in half—He built one side into Man and the other into Woman. They are two halves of the same structure. 16
One being—one flesh—longing to be united.
Literarily, this explains the Bible’s very next line: “Therefore (‘al kein) a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (2:24).
How does Woman’s creation lead to this “therefore”? 17
Genesis’s answer is that once you understand Man and Woman as two halves of the same being, you can then understand the attraction of marriage.
After all, man comes from the flesh of his parents…and so only leaves them for another being of whose flesh he is a part. 18
Okay, so we’ve seen how you can read Genesis 1-2 and easily point to humanity’s uniqueness—its *difference* from animal life.
But then here’s the question: why on earth does the Bible propose that Adam *might* have found a soulmate from among the animal kingdom?! 19
The answer’s simple:
So many other elements of the text suggest that man is, in essence, just another animal.
Consider: the first human being is formed from dirt (2:7), just like the rest of the beasts (2:19). In Genesis 1, humans and land animals are created on the same day 20
Wait, but doesn’t humankind get a little something extra during its creation? Like how God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (2:7).
Like take that phrase “living being” (nefesh chayah). Sounds extraordinary, right? 21
Well, slow your roll. Because it’s the same phrase Genesis uses to describe all the rest of the beasts (1:24).
From this perspective, Adam finding a mate from the animal kingdom makes perfect sense!
…And therein lies the key to explaining the serpent’s role in Genesis 3.
Here’s the first time we meet the serpent:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal (chayyat ha’sadeh) that the Lord God had made” (3:1)
This is SUPER crucial! Because see that Hebrew phrase “chayyat ha’sadeh” (wild animal)? Where have we seen it before? 23
Answer: it appears only *one* other place in the entire Book of Genesis…
Back in Genesis 2!
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’…So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field (chayyat ha’sadeh)” (18-19). 24
So “chayyat ha’sadeh” describes the animals from whom Adam was supposed to choose a mate…and whom he ultimately rejected as unsuitable.
This failed speed-dating-with-the-animals leads directly to the Creation of Woman. And it’s at *this* moment that the serpent appears. 25
The Bible, in other words, tells us *exactly* why the serpent is here, and why he’s out to get humanity.
He’s the most sophisticated of the “chayyat ha’sadeh”. He represents the jilted would-be-soulmates of the animal kingdom.
And he’s here to take humanity down a peg. 26
The serpent’s attitude can be summed up as: “You think you’re better than us?!”
He wants to prove to the first Man and Woman that they’ve gotten too big for their britches. They think they’re gods. But they’re not.
“You’re animals”, says the serpent, “just like us”. 27
And the Bible, for its part, helps us feel the serpent’s indignation at the outset!
Well, remember how the verse describes the serpent? “Crafty (‘arum)” (3:1). Now look one verse earlier (2:25). “And the man and his wife were both naked (‘arumim”) and were not ashamed”. 28
The Hebrew for “crafty” and “naked” is nearly identical!
The implication is the serpent might have a point—he’s as clever as the first man and woman are naive.
So in order to show them they’re not better than the animals, he sets out to trick them into debasing themselves. 29
He does this by playing on their insecurities. “You know God is holding out on you, right? He’s kept the Tree of Knowledge for Himself!”
“But the serpent said to the woman…’God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God'” (3:4-5).
We know the result. Man and Woman sin, and God is furious. But in order to understand the point of the narrative, it’s just as important to see *how* exactly God expresses His anger.
He does so, on one hand, by re-emphasizing the boundaries between God and human beings. 31
Through their punishments, God reminds Adam of his origins in the dust of the ground, and Eve that ultimately she is not above the natural world but very much a part of it.
In fact, even the name “Eve”, which Adam first calls her immediately afterwards, drives home the point. 32
The Hebrew name “Eve” (Chavah) is a variation of the word for “beast” (Chayah). A fitting parallel to Adam’s own name, which in Hebrew means “Dirt”.
Adam’s coining the name Eve reflects his willingness to finally admit that he and his soulmate are just beasts born from dust. 33
So the serpent won, right?
Man’s aspiration to godhood is folly, and humans are just animals by another name. Sure, the serpent was punished too. But in the end, didn’t he prove his point?
Well…not so fast. 34
The Bible ultimately rejects the serpent’s nihilistic view of humanity. Yes, God reinforces the boundary between God and Man. But He likewise reminds us that we *are* indeed, different than the animals. We *are* something more.
Consider the literary sequence of Gen 3:20-21.
Right before verse 20 are Adam and Eve’s punishments, through which God highlights humanity’s lowliness.
Then comes verse 20, in which Adam finally concedes the point. He calls Woman “Eve” (Chavah). He embraces his own identity as “Dirt” and calls his mate “Beast”. 36
Finally, we get verse 21: “And the Lord God made garments of skins for Adam and for his wife and clothed them.”
Is this just some stray detail in the story that just happens to come after verse 20 (naming Eve), but isn’t actually connected to it?
Think again… 37
It’s actually God’s direct response to the human despair in verse 20. He gently reminds the first Man and Woman not to be *too* self-effacing. Not to surrender entirely to their animal identities.
Instead, God clothes them. 38
He helps them become the only beings in Creation to behave in such a fashion. In effect, God instructs them: you are not gods…but neither are you mere beasts.
And in so doing, He restores their dignity.
God’s desire to elevate humankind explains the very next verse as well. 39
God proclaims that since Man has tasted the Tree of Knowledge, “now he might reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live forever” (3:22). So He bars the way back to the Tree of Life.
Is it jealousy, as the serpent implied to Eve? 40
The Hebrew for “might reach out his hand” (pen yishlach yado) helps us read this verse correctly.
In Biblical Hebrew, that syntactical combo refers to touching something that has been leant to you—or for whose safekeeping you’re responsible—but which doesn’t belong to you. 41
The best example is the prohibition against illicitly using an item someone else entrusted to you.
If you’re suspected of violating, then the court needs “to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands (lo shalach yado) on the neighbor’s goods” (Exodus 2:27). 42
Okay, so now back to the Tree of Life. What was God’s concern?
Well, remember…humanity had *already* been eating from the Tree of Life. That’s the clear upshot of the earlier narrative. They could eat from “every tree” (2:16). Only exception was the Tree of Knowledge. 43
So on one hand, once they eat from the Tree of Knowledge—reaching for divinity—God reinforces the divine/human boundary by barring the Tree of Life.
In doing so, God frames the Tree of Life as an object entrusted to humanity that they brazenly treated as if they owned it. 44
“But you DON’T own it”, God points out. “It belongs to Me. You are not gods!”
And yet, what does God leave implanted within humanity? The effects of the Tree of Knowledge!
Why? Because, Genesis tells us, while humans aren’t gods, they’re also something more than mere beasts. 45
So what are we in the end?
Wonderfully, complicatedly, wretchedly, exaltedly human.
At our worst, we can behave like beasts—with cruelty, injustice, or even just boorish incuriousness.
Sometimes we should worry that the serpent might have been right about us… 46
But in the end, the Bible reminds us, the serpent is wrong.
We *do* ultimately stand apart from the beasts of the field. True, we humans aren’t gods. But we *are* bearers of the divine image.
…And this represents both a promise, and a set of responsibilities. 47
The promise is that every single descendant of Adam and Eve possesses equal and intrinsic worth in God’s eyes. None of us bears *more* of God’s image than any other.
Were the Bible’s serpent indeed a demon in disguise, surely he reveals himself in those who still forget this. 48
But what comes with this promise is the responsibility to bear that divine imprint with grace and steadfastness. To do our best to deserve it by acting kindly, justly, and with virtue.
In the end, I suppose, the question of who’s right about us—the serpent or God—is up to us! 49
P.S. As always, deepest thanks to @zenahitz and the @CatherineProj for empowering me to think about this stuff! And it’s just amazing and deeply inspiring to me that even after our Hebrew study group concluded, those incredible folks have continued on their own—to this day! @mentions
And finally P.P.S. if you liked this thread, definitely check out my weekly podcast on the Bible called Good Faith Effort! @gfaitheffort
Talk about cool stuff like this all the time, like on our latest episode featuring @zugzwanged!
Good Faith Effort: Alastair Roberts – How To Read The Bible on Apple Podcasts Show Good Faith Effort, Ep Alastair Roberts – How To Read The Bible – Jan 16, 2023 https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/alastair-roberts-how-to-read-the-bible/id1536163226?i=1000594826994
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Apostle Frederick K.C. Price (I still call him Pastor Price) is one of my first and best teachers. I began watching his televised services nearly twenty years ago while living in Milwaukee, WI. Quite honestly, I was interested in the Word – I wanted to read and understand the Bible – but my direct reading was doing nothing for me. Nothing was clicking.
I was baptized at the age of six and have been communing with God since then in the form of my journal writing — Dear God: It’s me again! Yet and still when I wanted to read the Bible in my teens and twenties, I couldn’t quite get it. I had a King James Study Bible, which I still occasionally reference here and there, however the language still trips me up.
As far as church attendance goes, I’m a professional visitor. I visited the same church for eight years with a friend in high school and college. Never joined. Wasn’t interested, but I enjoyed attending. To this day, whenever I travel, I look for a church to visit as part of the trip. Having sat in on services across the United States, France and Israel, and having walked through ancient religious edifices in Egypt, Ethiopia, England, Italy, Mexico, Poland, and Vatican City, I know we are not dissimilar in the way we choose to display honor and glory for God around the world. The human need to erect monuments in as palatial a way as possible is on display wherever humans are. Yet and still, I have rarely felt moved by the Spirit in any of these spaces. Except for one memorable time in a small town in France. After visiting Chartres Cathedral, a 12th century architectural masterpiece, I withdrew to a bathroom stall in a nearby restaurant to weep and pray.
My mother had died about three years prior. I have no linear or practical memories of those in-between years. I don’t even know what triggered me. I was studying in Paris that spring. Even though the written placement tests put me in the second tier at the Sorbonne, which was near fluency, I felt like a charity case. It was hard for me to speak the language. Nerves. Embarrassment. Whatever. The knowledge was there, but my tongue wasn’t cooperating. That is, until the day I had an epiphany in a small stone restaurant in the rural French town of Chartres. I prayed aloud in multiple languages that day. I’m not clear English was a part of that communication. I’m certain of French and Tongues. Yet I understood every word that flowed from my month. That night in my dreams, God answered my prayer.
Even having had this pivotal, emotional and spiritual experience, reading the Bible remained a difficulty for me.
A couple of years later, I began watching Pastor Price on TV. Through his sermons, the Word began to marinate in me in such a way that it became tender enough to digest. I still wasn’t getting it on my own, but I was understanding enough to continue to try.
A few years after finding Pastor Price on TV, I moved to New York City. Pastor Price operated his ministry from his Faithdome in Los Angeles, CA. As a televangelist, he traveled the world. In 2001 he started a sister church, CCC East, in New York City at 96th St and Central Park West. I first visited CCC East shortly after my arrival to the City in 2005. I lived in the Bronx my first six months and the commute was too convoluted for me. Some time after I moved to Manhattan, I began visiting the church often. A year after becoming a regular, I felt the urge to answer the altar call but valiantly resisted. During my second full year in NYC, I made a deal with God during one of Pastor Price’s visits. “I won’t join today, but the next time he comes, I’ll answer the altar call.” Based on his routine, I was certain I had a month before committing myself. The following Sunday was Easter and Pastor Price decided to bless us with his presence. As I walked down the middle aisle to my seat, I raised a side-eye to God and acknowledged His checkmate. “Ah! You got me!” CCC-East became the first and only church I’ve ever joined.
Pastor Price preached the below “What Faith Is” series a few months before I joined CCC-East. I’m sure I heard a version of it in person. This is the teaching style I sat under for a number of years. Listening to him developed my ears, discernment and understanding. He helped contour my faith.
One thing he said often was eat the meat and spit out the bones. We didn’t have to agree with him, but don’t miss the message! He had his dogma, but he didn’t teach in a way that forced his perspective on his congregation. For that, I’m eternally grateful because I could have certainly become a blind sheep loyal to a man instead of the Word.
Apostle Pastor Dr. Fred Price taught the four part “What Faith Is” series at Faith Christian Center in Arlington, Texas beginning February 25, 2007. It’s a welcome refresher for me. I hope it blesses you as well. Listen and take notes – you won’t regret it!
My divorce what not a battle. My ex-husband, John Wyche, has never attempted to take any assets from me at any time before, during or after our marriage. Anything that is written or said that states or implies otherwise is untrue and unfair. I do not agree with or support anything that aims to secure clicks and views by crafting slanted messaging at the expense of the reputation of innocent parties.
While I made public comments related to the delay in signing papers, I can state that any delay may have been connected to his desire to save the relationship; never to take any of my property.
Since this matter appears to be of concern to so many, I will use this moment to share a few lessons:
Divorce does not equal failure. We did not fail; it simply did not work. I pray for his wellbeing as I do my own and I wish him nothing but God’s choosiest blessings.
If you have anything to protect going into a marriage, get a prenuptial agreement so there’s no confusion if it comes to an end. As a matter of fact, make sure you protect all of your assets with proper insurance, financial and estate planning. Our people are far behind the wealth gap; get a financial education and do what is in your power to protect what God has blessed you with.
Focus on love and truth. Be careful what you say or imply about others. No one is perfect and we all have something that we need grace to cover. With all of the mental health crises we are facing as a human race, my prayer is that we will see more commonalities of heart among each other and less judgement.
I love this post. Over the years, I’ve often said the end of relationships deserve as much care and consideration as the beginning. Begin as you intend to continue and end as if you care. Be blessed.