Being seen


Only one person in the Torah ever creates their own name for God, and it happens in this week’s Torah reading.  Hagar, the Egyptian, whose name means “the stranger,” flees to the desert, miserable because of her mistreatment by Sarah.  She encounters an angel who comforts her, and in return she calls God by a new name:  El Roi – “God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13).  God does not magically solve Hagar’s problems; Sarah’s heart remains as hard as ever, and Hagar continues to suffer under her hand.  Instead, Hagar receives from God the gift that so many of us long for:  the gift of being seen, of having our struggles acknowledged, our crying voices heard.  This divine gift is something we human beings have the power to give each other.  Even when we cannot solve others’ problems, we can be God’s eyes and ears, comforting those in distress by making sure they know they are seen and heard, that we, like God, care about what is happening to them.  May the God who sees us help us see those around us, and may comfort come to us all.