On Purim we are forced to confront the possibility that nothing we do really matters, because history is ultimately arbitrary, and life is therefore unalterably unpredictable. No wonder they tell us to have a couple of drinks ... But the power of Purim is not that it leaves us in a drunken stupor, vulnerable, uncertain and hungover.
I once counseled a young man through what he later understood to be the most profound and transformative moment of his life: He was abandoned, without explanation or apology, by his beloved fiancée. After a crushing year, he came back to tell me that he realized, in retrospect, that his heart had to be broken, shattered to pieces, in order for light to be able to come in. As he spoke, I envisioned a beautiful clay vase, intricately painted on the outside, but dark and empty inside. This man realized, through his suffering, that the life he had thought was whole had actually been hollow, a realization that opened up for him the possibility of healing, of growth, of new relationships -- both with future partners and with God.