By Terri Springer
I’ve starting noticing things differently since early 2020. For me, the shutdown came early because I was recovering from surgery on my Achilles tendon in February. Just when I was to the point where I could leave our apartment and go back out into the world, the world said, “No, stay home.” I realized my conversations, whether by phone, FaceTime or my lengthy text exchanges that my husband calls “Text Battles” moved from just trying to keep in touch while I was recovering to trying to make sense of what was going on. At the end of May, those conversations took on an added dimension as the protests began. I noticed no matter what I was reading, watching or listening to, I was processing the experience with a new perspective. Every book and article I picked up seemed to have something to teach me about the way the actions of a powerful person or group of people affects so many other people. Quite often it looks like the people in power don’t even notice the ripple effect of their actions.
That was true when I revisited Esther. I realized I was paying more attention to the characters around Esther and thinking about their experiences.
I wondered–what happened to Queen Vashti? After she stood up for herself and refused to obey King Xerxes’ command to go to his party and show off her beauty wearing her crown (some speculate only her crown), she was forbidden from being in the presence of Xerxes. I wonder, was she a little relieved?
What about Haman? He became incensed when Mordecai wouldn’t kneel before him. When the king said Haman could do whatever he wanted in response, why was the thought of killing Mordecai not enough? Why did he want to have all of the Jews killed?
When the tables turned, why did so many people still die? Esther is the hero of the story because she was able to keep the Jews from being killed. But because of the power structure, instead of being able to cancel the decree to kill all of the Jews, they had to do the next best thing: make it so the Jews could defend themselves. The result was instead of the Jews being killed, a huge number of Persians were killed. All because Haman got his feelings hurt.
In H. James Hopkins meditation on Esther, I found the perfect description of what I was seeing. His closing prayer lifts up “pawns in the games of the powerful.” Sometimes when we draw the line from actions to consequences, it looks like some of us are pawns and others are playing games at our expense. It might be that sometimes we are the ones who don’t realize the cost someone else is paying for us to have what we desire.
Let’s all pay attention, notice and respond. As Jesus taught in Matthew 13, may we have ears to hear and eyes to see.
 Daily Feast Meditations from Feasting on the Word (Year B).
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.