We've been home for a week now. I realize that makes me late in posting, but I've spent this week trying to convince my body that we've swapped time zones. I can now say that I'm an expert at recognizing the difference between 2 a.m. moonlight and 4 a.m. moonlight, and the shadows each casts on my backyard landscape. When morning comes, I'm lucky if I can match my socks. During daylight hours, I feel successful if I can string appropriate sentence parts in the correct order, or remember my full name, or keep my car between the lines on my way into town. So blogging has had to wait.
I came home with a pocketful of shekels and a head full of memories. There's much to share. So much, in fact, that it's daunting. With all those memories clamoring for release, how do you choose? I want to tell you about our dinner with our friends, and about the children we saw in the Old City, and about the beauty of Caesarea. I want to tell you what it feels like to wade in the Mediterranean, and the Jordan, and Gideon's Spring. I want to tell you dozens and dozens of things, but I'm so rich with material that I feel paralyzed.
I think I'll start by comparing this trip with our last. The first time we went to this amazing country, we (we being Dave, me, and Denise, a close friend from church who had gone through a devastating loss and needed to put her thoughts on something beautiful) joined a group from Calvary Chapel Oceanside. We were three in a sea of 45 strangers. They didn't stay strangers long, mind you, but there at the beginning, we were a quiet threesome. Everything we saw was brand new to our collective six eyes, so there was no "Oh, you're going to love this!" or "Just wait till we get to such and such!"
This trip, however, was littered with those phrases. For me, the joy of this trip was standing at the doorway to the hippodome at Caesarea and watching as one by one, my beloved church family turned the corner and stared at the long row of beach-hugging ruins. Their gasps filled me with delight, for I knew the emotions accelerating their heartbeats. I couldn't help but clap with anticipation when we pulled down the driveway of our first kibbutz, and I knew they'd soon be standing on the shores of the Galilee. When they waded into the Jordan for their baptisms, I could feel the coolness of the water from my perch on the rocks above, where I waited with a collection of cameras. When I cried at the garden tomb this time, it was because of their tears.
There's something wonderful about having traversed a path and then getting to watch others maneuver the same trail. It's one of the great joys of aging, actually. I don't know why our culture fights it so. To look back and remember, and spur on those who come after you, is a reward, a bonus, a satisfaction that can't be earned any other way. You have to walk those steps first to understand how they feel under another's foot. You have to climb that mountain to remember the ache in another's body. And you have to scan the valley yourself to really know the awe another climber experiences when he or she drinks in their first glimpse.
What an adventure we're all on ... and how good it is to turn to one another now and then, and grin in shared delight.
Photo taken at En Gedi. Shown: Dave, me, and my sister, Tarri