In Genesis 41:9-13 there is a short part of a much longer story (the Joseph novella) that reveals a great deal of my own mindset about this particular feast and some very odd quirks about it that were apparent today that has made my feast a great deal more complicated than it really should be and in a way that is not very enjoyable, but is perhaps worthwhile and beneficial in the future, even if it seems unpleasant at the moment. Having such a frequent amount of past and present business, with such uncertain future prospects, seems to suggest a certain opportunity for reflection, and I am in the sort of mood to take that reflection, not to single out any one particular thread among the combination of issues, or to single out any particular person who has contributed to the rather pensive mood I have been in so far, but rather to reflect on the underlying patterns and what they suggest.
Genesis 41:9-13 reads: “Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “I remember my faults this day. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, both me and the chief baker; we each had a dream in one night, he and I. Each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us, to each man he interpreted our dreams for us, to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him.”
What was the fault of the butler? Apparently the butler, for whatever reason, had been suspected of some sort of serious offense along with the chief baker. We do not know what that offense was, but it was a serious enough one to involve a death sentence. Not knowing which of the two likely servants was guilty of the offense, the Pharaoh threw both of them in prison. The openness of the butler to having his dream explained was a sign of his general decency of character, while the fact that the baker waited until it appeared safe to tell his dream suggested a slightly more guilty conscience, perhaps. At any rate, he was guilty, and punished according to his dream. So what does this particular story have to do with my Feast of Tabernacles and the context of my time here?
Today, while I was looking for open pages to take some notes on for a seminar on Bible helps, I happened upon a sonnet that I had written some time ago (it should be noted, about no one that lives near me and no one I have seen recently). The sonnet happens to be about the sort of situation that I find myself in a bit too often, and the reason for my melancholy reflection tonight:
I scratched beneath the surface of your heart,
And liked the woman in you that I found.
And before we both had the chance to start
I found our little ship had run aground.
You said that you enjoyed me as a friend,
And I suppose some fun’s better than none;
But when one has hoped for love without end
One wonders how better I might have done.
I wonder to myself while rain falls down
If your laughs are as hollow as mine are,
And while we walk around this busy town,
I wonder if the distance is too far.
For having seen what’s written deep inside,
It grieves me that from me you try to hide.
So, what fault was I forcibly reminded of today, and what does it have to do with this poem of mine? I was reflecting today on the problem of communication  and its relevance to our lives. While I am often irritated at the sort of issues that I have to deal with concerning others, my area of influence is mostly composed of myself. There is not much that we can do to change others, as much as we might wish. What we can change is both how we respond to others and what we do ourselves. Our own conduct and approach to others is what is under our control, and the only influence we have on others outside of that is because of what other people allow out of their own free will. The fault that I was forcibly reminded of today was a fault in communication, a reminder of having an unsettling combination of communication styles that do not serve me well at times, and situations that I find myself facing over and over again until I get it right (which hopefully won’t take *too* much longer).
The fault of mine is apparently not one that I remotely face alone, but it is a serious one. Florence and the Machine sang about this fault in their song “No Light, No Light,” (itself a song about the same sort of communication problem that I face) where the singer plaintively sings: “It’s so easy to say it to a crowd, but it’s so hard my love, to say it to you alone.” This is a problem I know all too well. It is not a difficult thing for me to write out my thoughts and perspective and even to some extent my feelings online, where they may be viewed and interpreted (or, often, misinterpreted) by a potentially wide audience. On the other hand, it is a tremendously difficult matter to speak about my concerns with people whose motives I do not trust and who do not appear necessarily very sympathetic, or who I am concerned might view my interest in a face to face conversation as aggressive or hostile or threatening. It is a vastly more difficult matter to plan a successful conversation about delicate and contentious and serious matters than it is to either write one’s own perspective and publish it to a candid world or to speak about the matter with sympathetic friends who can be trusted most of the time to agree with us and not help us to better understand that the person whom we may have difficulties with is not a monstrous person but is rather usually someone with a legitimate point and a perspective that deserves respect and honor.
There are a few powerful takeaways that I have when it concerns to dealing with this particular problem in my life and in the situations I find. For one, I need to work on better establishing a context of mutual trust and respect with others. This is not only for other people to feel comfortable talking to me, but also for me to feel comfortable talking to my specific concerns with someone before the whole world becomes aware of what I am concerned about, which is something that legitimately bothers others. While I do not consider myself to be particularly angry at others, and generally I tend to work hard at understanding where others are coming from, but all the same, to know where others are coming from (or at least to have a very good guess) and not to be able to respond accordingly to that perspective, or to properly convey my own respect for others and my desires for their own safety, is to be in an immensely frustrating state, one shared by many others in many similar situations.
It is matters like these that lead to much of the difficulty in our world in our relationships and in our institutions. Speaking for myself personally, these matters have proven to be most vexing in precisely those areas that are the most emotionally resonant, in romance and family relations, and the most simple and straightforward when it comes to friendship, which I have far more experience (and far better experience) than in family and romance matters. What this suggests is that there needs to be a lot more groundwork laid for both romantic and family planning and also that more positive experience in such areas might be connected to better communication in such regards. At some point my own musing and pondering and reflection combined with my concern for others should lead to better conduct on my part, and also to better results in its proper time.
 See, for example: