And Miriam chanted for them ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously.’ (Exodus 15:21)
The word va'ta'an, translated as ‘chanted’, is used in modern Hebrew to mean ‘answered.’ However, in this context, no one is asking Miriam a question. Rather, something profound has just occurred. A nation of slaves has miraculously been redeemed, and now, just as the Egyptian army is in hot pursuit and all seems to be lost, the sea splits and they cross to safety. Miriam’s response to this show of God’s might and merciful protection is to sing God’s praises, which she does while she is leading the women with the timbrel in her hand. Seeing and hearing God’s revelation demands a response.
So does witnessing anything require a response. In The Will to Meaning (p. 62) Viktor Frankl writes that meaning is ‘what is meant’ whether it is a person asking a question or a situation which implies a question and calls for an answer. We are questioned by life, says Frankl, and we must answer for our life. ‘I must try hard to find out the true meaning of the question which I am asked.’
One of the definitions of ‘being human’ according to Frankl is to be ‘continually confronted’ by situations. On the face of it, this sounds like a very passive description of what makes us human. However, understood correctly it is anything but passive. At every moment, life is rich with meaning. As human beings, we are aware that meaning is embedded in every situation that confronts us. It is this awareness that we are ‘personally addressed’ and that our appropriate response is what brings meanings to light that makes us human. The logotherapist is instrumental in facilitating a conversation between the person and life.