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.