Insight, Inspiration, Healing

Archive for March, 2020

A trip to Israel 4 – Landing

Thanks to my long nap, it seemed a magically short flight, followed by a very fast taxi ride with a typically speedy Israeli driver. He wanted me to know that his city, Tel Aviv, could offer more of modern life than I could find in New York or Toronto. His voluble ‘pride of place’ was easy to accept, accompanied as it was by his kindness – to me and to the pedestrian he almost hit.

In no time, we were in front of the stone apartment building where my friend’s late parents had lived for many years, and her warm welcome gathered me in.

The apartment, white-walled and angular, made me think of Greece. It was flooded with light from windows in every direction, and there were 2 large roof-top patios off ‘my’ bedroom from which I would view some everyday life in the city. But not for long, that day.

Within a couple of hours, we were off for the first of many long walks in this country that vibrates underfoot. My friend had listened well when I spoke about wanting to ‘walk the land’ as much as we could.

To get to our starting point, it was first a bone-jangling ride on a city bus driven by another speeder. I learned quickly to hold on.

This first evening found us hiking miles along the beach from Tel Aviv, with it’s high-rising bustle, to the adjoining ancient city of Jaffa, in the light of a glorious Mediterranean sunset. Wonderful that the entire stretch of beach has been preserved as public property.

Night had fallen as we walked into Jaffa, where by-laws prohibit building high or disrespecting the old-style architecture. Close to the water, some crumbling ancient walls awaiting renewal were adorned with the striking works of gifted graffiti artists, showing the beauty and the brokenness side by side. (If this blog site allows, I’ll post a couple of photos.)

Hungry and tired from the salty wind, we walked up the cobbled streets to the trendy Jaffa night life, buzzing even on a Monday night. Wine, exquisite salad, and as promised, the best hummus in the world.

A Trip to Israel 3- The journey begins

Regarding the hint I gave at the end of part 2 in this saga, my time between arriving at the airport and boarding the plane turned out to be the most difficult.

I’ll tell you about it later.

First things needn’t always come first in the telling, especially when so many sweet moments outweigh the shadow.

I can tell you that by the time I was ensconced in my aisle seat and the plane was in the air, the stress of the previous few hours was alleviated by a very decent vegetarian meal, and my drop into a healing sleep that lasted for 8 hours.

A Trip to Israel 2 – Preparation for the Journey

I booked an excursion of only 11 days, due to the needs of my family and of people with whom I work as a counsellor and healer.  With a minimum of 36 hours on each end for traveling and adjusting – (high sensitivity doesn’t diminish with age) – it meant there would be about 8 days for a ‘taste’ of Israel in the month of February.

There were many choices and decisions to be made, given the limited time and the vastness of history, multiplicity, and vibrancy I’d be encountering. Floods of suggestions came my way from friends, family, and community about must-see’s must-do’s, and must-be-prepared-for’s. Among the practical ones I’m grateful to have heeded are the need for good walking shoes, layers of clothing for all kinds of weather, and fleece-y things to wear indoors in residences with no central heating.

With basic comforts planned for, including anticipating the magnificent fresh food that everyone spoke about and that proved to be even more delicious than expected, I turned my attention to other areas of preparation.

I plowed through more than half of the 1000-plus page book The Source by James Michener – a crash course in the sometimes brutally warring history of the peoples who hungered for holy land and power over it through suppressing other peoples.

I studied and practiced some common Hebrew phrases. The most useful ones turned out to be the translations of ‘I don’t speak Hebrew. Do you speak English?’ Many if not most Israelis can get by in English.

I drank in the support of close loved ones who were cheering me on in this adventure – my first husband’s abiding friendship and encouragement; a long-standing and well-traveled woman friend’s help with lists and the loan of a great neck pillow for the plane; my newly pregnant daughter-in-law’s astute question that enabled me to name my highest priority of ‘walking the land’; my son’s phone call that I received on the way to the airport, with his lively good wishes, spiced by our usual unique banter that makes me laugh.

There were loving wishes from friends in every corner, another sign that this venture was a good plan.

One more important supporter must be acknowledged. My life partner of 15 years committed wholeheartedly to taking over some of my responsibilities while I was away, so I  felt his hand on my back. He also gave me a bit of his wonderful ‘fathering’. Because we met in our fifties, there hasn’t been much of that swapping of positive parenting that can be part of good, young intimacies. In the approach to this trip, I came to understand how he had supported all three of his daughters to become independent and intrepid world travellers.

His support was a huge boon, that is, until we got to the airport.

A Trip to Israel 1- Synopsis of the Roots

It all started in the 1950’s with my childhood in a Jewish family on the Canadian prairies. The Nazi atrocities of WWII had affected my family, as they had many Jews world-wide, with grief, fear, and determination to prevent anything like that happening again. The founding and flourishing of the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland was seen as the essential route to safety.

In my younger years, my main connection to Israel was my love for singing and dancing to the Hebrew folk music that had spread to my home continent. It was another version of the musicality of the Hebrew language that I came to love through prayer.

As adolescence brought both expanded understanding and some questioning of family values, I found myself reluctant to embrace what I saw as the polarizing danger of Israel’s extreme nationalist zeal. I understood the felt necessity, given the history of persecution and current-day threats, but I had little desire to travel there and feel the wash of that toughness. By my late teens, when most North American Jews of my generation were eager to travel to Eretz Yisrael, I declined. It was partly due to this reluctance, and partly because of my high sensitivity to over-stimulation that any substantial journey, but especially this one, was sure to stir. Besides, life was full and busy with other endeavours.

It has been said about life that ‘the days are long but the years are short’, and so I find myself in my 69th. year, on the verge of becoming a grandmother, strangely compelled to set foot on Israeli soil. As the mystery would have it, the timing was right for me to finally accept the offer of an Israeli-born friend to be my ‘tour-guide’.