In the Book of Esther, which is read on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we find that after Esther finds out about the plot to kill the Jews she invites her husband, the king, as well as his advisor Haman to a banquet.
At the wine feast, the king asked Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Esther 5:6
“My wish,” replied Esther, “my request—if Your Majesty will do me the favor, if it pleases Your Majesty to grant my wish and accede to my request—let Your Majesty and Haman come to the feast which I will prepare for them; and tomorrow I will do Your Majesty’s bidding.” Esther 5:7-8
On the second day, the king again asked Esther at the wine feast, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Esther 7:2
Queen Esther replied: “If Your Majesty will do me the favor, and if it pleases Your Majesty, let my life be granted me as my wish, and my people as my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, massacred, and exterminated. Had we only been sold as bondmen and bondwomen, I would have kept silent; for the adversary is not worthy of the king’s trouble.” Esther 7:3-4
One might read this story and wonder: Once Esther had the King and Haman at her table, why did she tell them to come the next night? Why did she wait for the next evening to come out as a Jewess to the king? What made her delay the inevitable?
When we stand at the threshold of opening up about who we are, or about what we need, or about something we need to shift in a relationship, it can feel overwhelming and daunting. In our life, many of us have felt the need to end a relationship, to ask someone out on a date, to share about an illness, to ask for help, to come out in some way. I have noticed that many of us will push these things off way past the time that feels comfortable thus creating tension in relationships. While others will jump in and just blurt it out, thus it comes out as a shock or harsh to the person receiving it.
How do we find the right moment? The right time? The sweet spot between abruptness and dragging things out?
We can find some guidance in the Book of Esther. After that first feast that Esther prepares, the king goes back to his chamber and can’t sleep. He asks his advisors to bring out his Book of Records. They read him the story of the time Mordechai saved his life. While his advisor is reading from the Book, Haman is outside and the king asks him to come in. The king then advises Haman to bestow special privileges on Mordechai in front of all the people.
The next day – the day in-between these two banquets – is the day that Haman has to dress Mordechai in royal garments and proclaim “This is what is done for the man whom the king wants to honor”.
Perhaps, Esther invites the king to the first banquet, hoping that she would have the courage to come out to him, to tell him that she is a Jewess. As she looks around the table, she reads the room and notices that it might not be the right time. She knows she needs to do this, but perhaps she also intuitively can sense that this is not the right time. So she asks them to come again the next day. She allows for the Universe to give her some sort of sign, some sort of recognition that what she is embarking on is not only the right thing to do, but also the right time. Perhaps, as she sits, she notices no - not today. Yes, I am scared, but it is not about that… something else needs to shift before I can do this big thing I am about to do.
The next day when she hears about Haman’s proclamation about Mordechai, she notices that the energy has shifted. That the king now trusts Mordechai too. The next evening, as she sits with the king and Haman, she can feel how things have shifted and notices that this might be the right moment to share about her heritage. So she takes a breath and plunges into the unknown.
When have you known it is time to act, but pushed it off for a later date? What do you keep pushing to make happen but the response, if you listen to your intuition, is “not yet”? How do you step into Divine timing and truly listen?
May we all be guided by what is in our hearts to do AND trust the timing beyond our control.
Purim is celebrated this year (2023) on Monday night March 6th into Tuesday evening March 7th.