We woke to the perfect autumn day in New York. The sun accented the remainder of the leaves on the trees, leaving us with a dazzling display of color. I knew it would be the last glimpse of the season for when we returned from out trip to the Holy Land, it would be gone. I considered this the first of many blessings.
Everything about this trip has left me with eager anticipation for the unknown; an open spirit to whatever adventure awaited me. The community, the people, the Holy places – it was all a mystery. Upon our arrival at the airport we learned that were not seated together. I’m an anxious flyer and this began to get in my head and preoccupy my thoughts, but still I wasn’t nervous, just preoccupied. At check-in the attendant was able to move our seats closer together and we were grateful for her efforts as the plane was already full. We boarded and when I saw that my husband and another passenger shared aisle seats, I asked if he would mind switching and he graciously obliged, saying he knows how inflexible so many people are and was happy to help. Blessing number two and we haven’t even left yet!
I buckled up in the center trio of seats flanked by my husband and a young , friendly Jewish woman. She shared that she was born and raised in the states and took her first trip to Israel as a young girl. Jewish youngsters are given an opportunity through Birthright Israel: Hillel trips connect Jewish students and young professionals to their Jewish journey and identities, to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Hillel trips provide a variety of meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults from all Jewish backgrounds to explore their Jewish heritage and current Israeli life. Meredith told me how she fell in love with the country at first glance and gave me a first hand account of what Israel was like. She shared about the culture and religions as well as the food and infrastructure.
A short time into the flight, we hit some turbulence (remember I said I’m an anxious flyer)! I immediately grabbed my husband’s hand and alittle self conscious, looked towards Meredith, whose eyes looked as nervous as mine. She said “I just hate turbulence”. I tapped her hand instinctively and ‘mama mode’ kicked in. I said “We’re okay, there’s nothing to worry about.” And with a little smile, I turned away. The next thing I knew, she had grabbed my hand and said “would you mind”, referring to me holding her hand too. So I did! Suddenly, Meredith’s anxiety was my mission and all of my own disappeared. And such is life. Blessing number 3.
Yes, I was in for an adventure and God’s message of unity and peace among His people was beginning to take hold as the anchor for our trip. This is where He is drawing my eyes and ears and as my feet walk through the cities and towns of Israel, I will find more hidden treasures to make the stories of the sites we see come alive.
Our first few days in Israel have been a wonderful whirlwind of events. From time change to climate and cuisine to culture, two days feel more like ten. There has been little time to take it all in and make sense of it all but yet there’s a sense of comfort in knowing He’s there. He’s there in the hustle and bustle and each time the wind blows I feel His gentle push to take the next step in eager anticipation.