What Else Israel Is…
As I write this, there is rocket fire threatening to pound our homes and schools to the south of me. There are chemical weapons lurking, and hostile rebel forces about 15 minutes east of me- as the crow flies. There is a funeral being planned for a 35 year-old, Israeli, father of five who was murdered by an Arab terrorist to the south-west of where I sit this morning.
I’m updated…. Israel is hard core.
But I want to interrupt the actual news to bring you a very real picture of what else Israel is.
This is not a political post!
I will not endeavor to flex my intellectual prowess, flaunt my political leanings or promote a political agenda. Instead, I will share with you some reflections on my freeking awesome day at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) yesterday.
Yeah, you heard me: My. Freeking. Awesome. Day.
In the wake of so much intensity all the time, it’s so easy to lose site of the simple, natural things that make this land so amazing – here’s a humble reminder…
In the absence of an actual photograph, I’ll try to bend these words and show you what I see…
It is a dry, warm day. The kind of heat that would dry a wet T-shirt and leave the sleeves slightly uptight, but not totally crunchy. It is a marvelous heat, an upbeat heat, a “come on and share a cool glass of lemonade with me” heat. It’s a full-bodied sun against a giant blue sky. Merciful in her shine, persistent, but kind. If I could swallow the sun today, I would.
Only a week out from a series of very wet April showers, the ground still has a bit of bounce to her. The tall, green grass and reeds, and a handful of peek-a-boo crimson-colored poppies on the side of road, are testimony to the winter that was. But, summer is knock-knock-knocking on our door, standing on the front porch with her hands behind her back, swaying coyly from foot to foot, teasing us with her charm. She hasn’t come all the way in just yet… but she’s licking her lips in anticipation.
Our beach towels are spread sloppily on the rock filled ground as we settle in by the water’s edge. This little beach, a 10 minute walk from the main road, and not more than 200 meters wide feels like a private island. We are the only ones here.
The sea is perfect. Almost motionless, save for the occasional shiver that spreads across her surface, as if the wind is giving her butterfly kisses along the length of her smooth back. As of 10:30 a.m. this morning, she’s showing us deep blue, luminous turquoise, subtle notes of lavender, and a mellow jade. If I didn’t know better I’d think this is where water colors come from. The Sea of Galilee could so easily be G-d’s paint pallet…
Straight in front of me, across the sea, is the upper Galilee. She has the poise and grace of a star athlete, confident and stable. She glows softly with a quiet knowing and a secret smile. Her rises and falls are darkened by forest and tree. She is neither awesome nor breathtaking. Her beauty is effortless. Just seeing her across the water, remembering the pieces of life I have lived in her pockets, makes me feel more beautiful just for knowing her.
To my far right, due north of where I sit, the Hermon mountain range looms in the distance. Her base, like a wide bottomed woman, stretches wide and wonderful across the north. I can only see a relatively small part of her from here, but her snow capped peaks are still holding court in the crisp heavens above. The white caps give the illusion that she’s floating.
It seems to me that even the highest peaks of the Hermon, grand as they are, have begun to acknowledge that change is upon us. Every day, the stillness and purity of the white snow gives way to just a little more rock and earth. Her majesty is undeniable, and I utter a silent prayer of thanks and hope for the security she lends so gracefully.
Behind me, the southern ridge of the Golan Heights spreads as far as my eye can see. I feel like I’m sitting in between the Golan’s knees, resting my back on its chest, like a young girl, steadied by the embrace of her lover. I know the Golan tapers off just a few kilometers south of here, but from my vantage point, the Golan looks unending. My kids call this group of mountains behind us the “butternut” mountains – because they look smooth with dusty-orange colored earth.
I look across, above, behind and around and I am quite literally surrounded by layer upon sweet layer of history. History made from blood and from tears, from prayers and from toil. It makes me feel small and strong at the same time.
I zoom in and see my kids with their sunscreen flavored smiles, laughing and splashing in this blessed sea and I think to myself, eternity must look something like this.