Monday, April 5, 2010

Life is Good And So Is Israel

I have neglected writing my blog lately. Life has bee very full lately and for this am glad. I am still serving as a Deans’ Assistant at my seminary; this is such a blessing for me. I cannot convey the joy that serving in this capacity has given me over the last eight months. I am sure that I have received far more than I have been able to give. I am still in my InterSpiritual Counseling course… this I don’t love so much. I am sticking it out for the duration, but I just cannot warm up to the teacher. I’m sure it’s my stuff that is getting in the way and not her. I know that she is trying very hard to create this course from just the ashes of the old course and I give her a lot of credit for her efforts. We just come from different points on the map. So, I agree to disagree and I am letting it go.

My work at hospice is consuming me. If I wanted to work full time, I could, without a problem. It’s just that I am happy with it being three days a week… at least for the moment. I have been offered the job of helping to coordinate the end of the year retreats for both the first and second year students and to coordinate the graduation celebration at Riverside Church. I am so thrilled that Diane and Susan feel that I have the capacity to handle such a huge responsibility, but at the same time I am terrified of all of this responsibility. Scared to death, is a pretty accurate description.

I am absolutely thrilled that I get to be one of the staff at the retreat center for the entire week. That is like a dream come true. To be considered an equal is amazing. I am so blessed and grateful.

At the same time, however, I worry that my job at hospice will suffer. I can’t let my patients down, or Margarita, or Chris or anyone else at my job. I love my work and I want nothing to jeopardize it or the quality of my work. I feel trapped between to the two. So, I am praying that I have the stamina and the energy to perform both functions well.

Life is so good. I feel truly blessed and loved by God these days. Everywhere I look, I see beauty, I see love, I see gentle breezes in my sail. Please, dear God, stay with me.

I just read that if we turn to God, God will respond by filling our lives with love and well-being. This has truly, and deeply, been my experience. I took a few steps towards God and God reached out and jumped leaps and bounds to meet me and take my hand. Who knew it could be so? I’ve heard said before and never quite believed, but this has been my experience. God met me more than half way after I reached out to Him/Her/It.

This past week, I have reconnected with a South African friend from Israel. We have not seen each other since they left Israel in 1989. But, through the power of FaceBook we have found each other again. We were emailing each other back and forth because her daughter is discovering Israel pretty much in the same way that we did all those years ago. I was writing to Sharon, telling her some of the lessons I learned about making Aliyah. I was telling a couple of funny stories that I remember and I just roared. I read them to my husband and he laughed heartily too. It then occurred to me that some of our travels through Israel would make a wonderful story. There were so many strange tales, so many funny stories, so many poignant ones and so many lessons learned about my husband, the human condition, and myself that this is a story that should be told. I was inspired to write it. I believe I am going to do just that. I think it will have to wait until this summer after the graduation celebration is over, my course is done and my obligations as a Deans’ Assistant are no more, but I am going to write it.

I started to write this once before, but I was in a different place before, I was still angry about some of the things that happened and I was grieving some of the things we lost, but that is behind me now. Now, I see the humor, the farcical nature of some the events and people we met. I believe that I could write it now. God be willing, I will try.

Here’s a sample:

We lived in a tiny settlement in the Galilee called Har Halutz. At the time there were about 17 families living there. Today there are 90. We were a pretty close knit bunch and everybody knew everybody’s business. The men of the settlement, called a yishuv, would walk shmirrah or guard duty, taking turns. Of course the men were armed. Well, our friend, Richard, who was very cowardly, was out walking his turn on guard duty, he heard a noise and opened fired… at nothing. The head of security came running out of his house in his pajamas and ran up to Richard, taking stock of the situation, he then ripped the rifle out of Richard’s hand and took all his bullets. Orin, the head of our security, told Richard that he can walk guard duty like everyone else, he just couldn’t have any bullets. Well, Richard was indignant and said to Orin, “What if something happens? How will I defend the yishuv?” Oren said, “If something really does happen, yell at the top of your lungs and some with bullets will come out and help you.”

Every time I think of that story, I laugh aloud. Perhaps, you have to know Richard, perhaps not, but I think it is funny. There are so many stories like that.

Then there was the mitapel (or babysitter) in one of the children’s houses. In this particular house the children’s ages went up to about 13 or so. One Friday afternoon, I was getting the dining room ready for Friday night Shabbat dinner, it is the biggest meal of the week. It was my job at that time to get the dining room ready. I was minding my own business, when I group of boys from this children’s house came in. We had large windows that looked over the Sea of Galilee, it was a beautiful view, but the windows were fogged up because it was that time of year. The boys came in and began writing the “F” bomb all over the windows. All Israeli boys learn that one English word at an early age. So, they were writing all over the windows, I was angry, because I was going to have to clean the windows before dinner. So, I called their mitapel and told him what was going on. He came right over and told the boys to wipe the windows down. All but one complied. The wayward son said, “I don’t have to clean anything. Ask my mother.” It just happened that this one child’s parents were Americans. They were the type that felt this is Israel speak Hebrew. I agree, but only to a point. They were a little fanatical about speaking only Hebrew.

So, this child refused to clean the windows. A scene ensued between the boy and his mitapel. Someone must have called the boy’s parents, I never knew who called them. Just as the mitapel took the boy by his head and began cleaning the windows with his face, his mother walked in. I was laughing because it was such a scene, the kid was a major brat and that his mitapel cleaning the window with the boy’s face was priceless. When his mother walked in a saw this, remember, she believes in only speaking Hebrew to Israelis, she began to scream in English! “What the fuck are you doing?” “Are you out of your fucking mind?” You get the idea. The mitapel knew no English (except the word “fuck” because he too learned it at an early age.) I had to leave the scene because I was laughing so hard and I didn’t want to offend anyone or make it worse. But, I can tell you, I laughed for days after that and I never saw that kid again without a huge grin on my face.

This book is going to write itself.