This morning, God cried - just a little. Okay, I'm being fanciful, but as the radio played one of several sad songs and the newscaster broke in to reveal the names of 5 of the 13 soldiers we lost yesterday, it started to rain - gentle, quiet, soft.
For those of you who don't know - it never rains in Israel between March/April and October/November, sometimes even December. Yes, there are times when you'll have a few drops in June or July or even August, but rarely - it could even be years between them. I don't remember it raining at all last year. Fanciful, but comforting. God shares in our tears and our mourning.
The human rights activists who live their lives with numbers and not facts, might point out that God could be crying for the innocents who have died in Gaza. I hope that was part of it too. I have no problem with that - we are not in competition to have our innocents die. That's why we protect them.
On the way into a client's office, this early Monday morning in Israel, I passed a sign on the road that has to be unique in the world. It warned that in the case of a siren indicating an incoming missile, you are to stop the car on the side of the road. Not written, but understood by all, is that you are then to lay down on the ground and put your hands over your head to protect it. Best if you are near a wall that faces Gaza, behind which you can hide.
I listened to the sad songs on the radio, and a news broadcast in which they spoke about the wounded soldiers. There are 80 in various hospitals around the country. When the Minister of Health finished speaking, the news correspondent added that his wife is a nurse and is treating a young Palestinian child injured in the fighting. The Minister of Health also pointed out that hundreds of doctors had been calling in, asking to volunteer. Many simply showed up at the hospitals to help.
I got to the office, to find the large display screen used to track the company's technology now has a large display of a map of Israel and shows when the last missile will hit. As I walked past and made a remark about the display, someone explained that it also makes sounds, but the constant warnings were getting people upset, so they disconnected the sound.
I walked into the kitchen and greeted a friend. She told me that the Ethiopian cleaning woman had two sons in Golani, the unit that just lost 13 soldiers. A few minutes later, the woman walked in. She looks as you can imagine a mother would look, but much worse. Hebrew is not her native language. She understands enough to communicate and do her job, not much more.
In a mix of Ethiopian and Hebrew, that was barely understandable, she began talking about her sons. She hasn't heard from them and she's worried. I tried explaining that no news is good; that she would hear. That they are okay. I don't know what she understood.
She spoke of underground, the tunnels in Gaza. I barely understood but I kept agreeing with her until we both had tears in our eyes.
This morning, I felt God's tears. There is a reason for this war. We did not choose to fight it. Last night, for almost an hour, I heard the Arabs in surrounding villages celebrating. They are happy we lost our 13 precious souls. It seems the fact that they claim to have lost 400 means little to them. What matters is that we lost 13 and so they celebrate.
Today, I am filled with gratitude again. I would not choose to live in any country that didn't change the traffic signs from warnings if there are upcoming delays, warnings to check your tires and not text message, to a warning that in case of a missile attack, you should stop the car on the side of the road. Several people have been injured in car accidents during the siren warnings.
I celebrate today that I live in a country that cries over 13 dead more than a society who is telling the world that they are being massacred and have lost over 400.
I thank God that on the radio this morning, the broadcasters concluded the news update with "we pray" and "with the help of God."
All in all, it might be easier to live somewhere else, but there is no other country that is mine; no other people so moral. We would never send an Israeli child to Gaza; never trust them with our precious treasures - and even if we did, Gaza's medical facilities are pathetic because they spend their money on missiles not medicine; on weapons that take life, not machines that save them.
Today, Israel was blessed again - with the tears of God, the promise that better days will come to us, and the deep knowledge that no matter how bad it gets, we have built a loving and caring society.
They can set off all the fireworks they have; it is we who walk in the sunshine.