Cora didn't want to go to Israel at first. She didn't quite see what all the fuss was about. I told her, "Cora, Chris is going ... and if he goes without you, you're going to miss out on sharing something wonderful. He'll try, but he'll never be able to fully describe what it means to him." In the end, she relented, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it.
And then it was. Somewhere between, "All right. I'll go." and the morning we piled our bags in the church van and headed to Sea Tac airport, Cora's heart began to burn for a land she'd never seen. Her excitement grew during the trip from Seattle to Atlanta, and during the short layover there, and all through the long flight to Tel Aviv. In the darkest hour of our flight, when our legs ached from inactivity and we found ourselves rising and stretching and congregating back in the steward's section (where we met a believing, Messianic attendant named Marwin), Cora's desire fought its way past her exhaustion and shone in her eyes.
She told me later that the tears first came when she saw on the screen that we'd crossed the Mediterranean, and she looked out her window and caught her first glimpse of the Holy Land.
She didn't stop there. Cora cried at nearly every stop along our trip. She became my blessing. My friend, who had been so reluctant, so unconvinced, so complacent about this journey, now drew it in as though it were breath.
Sometimes, now, Cora and I will look at each other across the room, and smile. And I can see in her eyes that she's thinking of Israel. She can see I'm right there with her.
I long for that land. As our friend, Dave Perkins, says, "Once you get that sand in your sandals, you can never get it out." I can feel the sand even now, and I'm counting the days until our next trip.
I've a longing for another place, too. In unlooked-for moments, my heart responds to a sound my ears miss. I turn and look up past the clouds, and I know where I belong. And someday, I'll leave this place, where all is weight and worry and regret. Someday, I'll cross that wide sea and catch my first glimpse of the One I long for most. And though I've read there's no crying there, I've a feeling that when I hold those hands for the first time and I see for myself the love written in His wounds, I'll wash them in my tears.