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Other Journeys in Other Times:
A Journey Not Taken

Edward Long,
Queen Esther
(public domain)

When Hadassah was just nine years old, some of her relatives decided to go leave Persia and go back to Jerusalem. They told her fantastic stories about the Promised Land, and urged her to join them.

Mordecai, her dear cousin, was too old to make the trip. He had longed to return for decades, but now his joints were too weak. His eyes were sad, but he smiled at Hadassah when she asked whether she should go. “This decision is yours. You could live in freedom. You are young, and strong. Who knows what blessings await?”

His wife, Daria, had died the year before. During the days of mourning, Mordecai said to Hadassah—only once, but with deep emotion—“I am glad that you are with me. I will not be alone.”  Hadassah remembered, considered, and told her relatives that she was staying with Mordecai.

After her parents died, Mordecai and Daria raised Hadassah as their own. They taught her how to reason and strategize. They also spoke honestly of the challenges of their deception: In the secrecy of their home they maintained some Jewish rituals, but no one outside knew of their heritage. Mordecai was gregarious and wise; he’d built a comfortable home, and his wide circle of influence extended to the king’s palace. His Persian friends called the young girl Esther.

Sometimes Hadassah thought about the journey that she didn’t take. How would her life have been different? What would it be like to live freely, openly? As she moved with her servant through the marketplace one day, she wondered whether her uncle’s words from six years earlier were still true for her: “Who knows what blessings await?” 

A troop of the king’s solders was pressing roughly through the crowd. When they saw Hadassah they surrounded her, looked her over, and shouted. “Here’s a real beauty!” They forced her onto a chariot with three soldiers guarding her. Stunned, Hadassah could only offer silent, frantic prayers remembered from the psalms of David. The short ride to the king’s harem was only the beginning of Esther’s much longer journey to power and to the opportunity to save her people. During the uncertain times that followed, she prayed for strength, courage, and wisdom. Her prayers were answered.

O God, please help us to be aware–especially in difficult times–that blessings lie ahead,
in your will. Grant us strength and courage.