Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Today In My Little Country

Today in my little country, Israelis are coming out of their homes to hike, to swim, to picnic, to laugh, to eat, to play. Today we celebrate a miracle that happened...yes, about 3,000 years ago because, well, that's what we are.

Thousands of years ago, and seventy years ago, we were slaves. Slaves to the ancient Egyptians, slaves to dozens of nations who tolerated our living among them but didn't really want us. And God took us out of Egypt and made us free; and God gave us back the land He had promised to us long, long ago.

It took us 40 years to reach the Promised Land...and another 2,000 to return to it after the last exile.

In a land too often plagued by violent neighbors, today, for just a short while, our biggest problem is getting the barbecue going, finding a parking spot, or waiting for our spot in line.

We are crowding the beaches, hiking the mountains, playing in the rivers and springs, kayaking down the Jordan. We are sitting in cafes, walking the streets of our cities.

In short, today we are normal. Deep down, we are praying that nothing explodes; that no one will die today as a result of violence. Today, we just want to be normal.

We want to think about what we are going to make for dinner, who will be joining us for the second part of the holiday that begins tomorrow night.

Davidi is coming home from the army and I find this week harder than most. When I am working and he is in the army - it's like that's his job, his task. When I am on vacation, I feel guilty. I swam in the Sea of Galilee, barbecued on its shores. I watched as my oldest, Elie, joined my two adopted - Yaakov and Chaim. And in the most gorgeous picture that I cannot post, the three men...because yes, they are men now, held four little girls. Elie's daughter refused to let him hold her - she wanted to be with Chaim, and so Yaakov held one of his daughters, Elie held another, and Chaim got to hold one of Yaakov's and Elie's little Michali against the backdrop of the beautiful sea.

Aliza insisted that I take a picture that I had taken a few years ago...this was from a little over a year ago on the same beach...three of my men...two who are fathers...two who are brothers...three who were soldiers...three who are brothers...

And these were taken two days ago...

Aliza tried to remember who was standing where and so she made them switch places a couple of times...we forgot about holding up the meat!
The funny part is that we didn't get it right...

But we laughed, we smiled, we enjoyed, and the day was perfect...and normal. So normal.

Normal is a gift here in Israel and when we get to the end of the day and can say "well, today was normal" - it is a celebration.

This week has been filled with normal's almost scary to say that because immediately comes the fear of jinxing it.

But the gift was given and so I embrace it. Memories were made. Little girls giggled and played, another generation growing up in the beautiful sunshine of our land...and this time, we were blessed with a new baby - Yaakov's youngest - little Leora, their first sabra - Israeli born - child.

And that too reminds me of my first sabra - David.

We ate, we swam, we played, we laughed. And I missed Davidi so much. And I remembered a picture from the last time we were was before he went into the army.
When I looked at the pictures from that last time, I noticed this one - Yaakov was sitting on one mat, Chaim lying on another.

And then I saw David and wondered what he was doing.

And so, with the wonders of Photoshop, I blew up the picture and laughed. Then I sent it around.

Davidi insists he was not pulling out the plug of Yaakov's raft, but it seems to me that he was...and I love the expression on his face.

So, today in my little country, some soldiers took a wrong turn and their car was stoned in an Arab village but thankfully they found their way out to safety; and our ever-alert soldiers captured three armed terrorists before they could launch the attack they were planning, and tens of thousands of Israelis got stuck in traffic jams on their way home.

And David was in the army, as he has been for months. But he'll be home tomorrow...and for now, as we think about what we'll do today, we stop for a moment and thank God for the beautiful land in which we live, the sunshine that covers the land, the seas and the river and the springs that provide us places to play, and we thank God for normal.

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