Sanctuary | Stone Sabbatical | Story Line | Uncategorized

Joy Comes In The Morning

September 20, 2014

So, this is life now.  Where ever we are?  That’s where we live.

It was late and the sun set at our back as we headed east across the Land of The Free – Home of The Brave. The lady to my right is reading, the LCD screen is advertising everything, and I am seriously constrained in the middle seat, again.

Both boys, across the aisle, sleep soundly with heads bobbing as Dillon carefully holds the inflatable neck pillow on his lap as his chin bounces against his collar bone.

Bless.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

It had been three crazy months, 2 yard sales and a massive estate sale, 20 hour work days, the complete liquidation of life as we know it and too many “last times with…” to count kind of season for us.

Now, we were finally on the way to the Big Dream.  All the prep that can be done has been done and it’s boots on the ground; time to run.

Onward we went,  I kept praying for a blind eye to my just-a-little-too-big carryon suitcase.  A prayer that hit a brick wall right at the security check-in in Newark.

TSA agents are nice.  The “red coats” not-so-much.

“Snotty little man”, I mumble under my breath in a burst of snark brought on by not enough sleep in the last 3 months, sweaty armpits making me pariah to my future row-mate, and a healthy dose of self-indulgence to be rude.

The plans to hang in New York didn’t pan out. There was no Times Square, no pizza, no World Trade Center.  Frankly, we needed the quiet time.  Boys were singularly unimpressed.

Tuesday, September 16th – Tel Aviv

I don’t know how to do everything I’m already doing and yet, that doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason not to do them. There is no pause button. It’s onward and upward.  Even if you don’t know how.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

We are all tired but I am stretched tissue paper thin and fraying around the edges.  Staunch rhetoric has devolved into stoic silence and a determination to make sense of an incomprehensible new environment.

I cannot express the feeling of sheer panic that enveloped me when we got off the train in Tel Aviv with no idea of where we were, how to get there, or how to survive the sweltering 80+ degree heat and thick humidity.   Our heavy bags were an albatross around our necks and the taxi drivers were aggressive as they correctly read our desperation to be settle somewhere, anywhere, besides this busy street corner in the middle of town.

Brian took a taxi with the luggage and the boys and I walked the mile and a half following Siri’s directions to catch up to him.  In the blasting heat of the Mediterranean, I regretted the wool socks, the boots, and the hat almost immediately.

Finally, we arrived at our AirBnB apartment…

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Image credit: Dillon Stone - InternationalBrofari

Tel Aviv, in the middle of the hippy district, where every alley is a public urinal, and just walking out the door made you shiny with sweat. Assailed with unfamiliar odours, my proximity alarms were on overload.

To say I was only exhausted is a bit hilarious.

I think it was in those moments I experienced some of the most gut-wrenching, overwhelming terror I’ve experienced as an adult.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

“Dear God, what have we done?”  I whispered through my hands as the door closed on a tiny bedroom and the boys and Brian revelled in the outdoor market, the Mediterranean a few minutes walk from us, and the sheer brilliance of “being in another country”.

More than anything, I wanted to run home.  To enfold myself and my family into the safety of cool days and crisp mornings that were promised in Bend.  I wanted to sit again at our favorite coffee shop with the pumpkin latte served with REAL pumpkin.

I wanted to cancel this adventure.

“I’m not big enough for this. I don’t know how to do this!” I choked back hysterical sobs and wondered for a moment about just how devastating it would be for those men in the other room if I lost my ever-loving-mind.

In an agony of wrestling with unruly passions I pulled out the pink $5 Bible I had packed so there was always the Word of God if ever the power or the technology failed.

Longing for words of comfort, a reassurance that this Thing was not a pipe dream, not something fabricated out of sheer determination and will, I looked for hope and a reminder.  A reminder of what?

That this was, indeed, Divine.

“Read Psalm 34” whispered through my mind and without hesitation I shakily opened the tissue paper pages to a  waterfall of compassion from the One Who Knows Me Best.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.”

Oh, how I sought Him.   I read that chapter over and over again, dragging courage from deeper parts of me than I knew existed.   I clenched my entire soul around the hope that He would deliver me. Then I prayed and laid out my heart and my fears in a chaotic burst punctuated by a closed throat and trembling hands.

We went downstairs, our tourist backpacks on, sweating through the open market where someone actually threw Turmeric at me. Maybe it was cumin?  I don’t know.  Seriously, what kind of person throws spices at strangers?  Is this supposed to be enticing?

The smells were overwhelming, the heat exhausting, my face dripping with sweat. Forget makeup.  It’s time to shine…

Falafals and lemon ices while Brian and the boys declared this the best food ever and I could barely choke down a bite.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a friend showed up.  Someone I’d met through another friend while still Stateside.  On the way to the airport, she decided to stop through Tel Aviv and suggested we meet down at the beach. Her kindness and joy a balm to my very shaky mental state.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

Her enthusiasm for this place gave me a bit of a shock and I was reminded to look through someone else’s eyes at the place in which we found ourselves.

There are kindnesses everywhere.  And people… People who understand what it is to be new, and frightened, and overwhelmed.

In a brief exchange, a young man, from the apartment we are subletting here in Jerusalem, offered to come to Tel Aviv and carry all our baggage to the apartment so we could travel simply and easily to Jerusalem. For the price of gas.

The woman who ran the tiny jewelry store, downstairs from us, in broken English, made sure we knew how to get to the bus station, how to travel to Jerusalem, reaffirming that everything was different there.

She understood when I told her I was struggling.

“Because you are the mama.” She said.

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Image credit: Dillon Stone - InternationalBrofari

Tears welled up in my eyes as she repeated the instructions to get to the bus several times to make sure we got it.  Isaac stood beside me making sure to remember it for me.

She said everything was better in Jerusalem.

“The centre of the world”.

What I saw of Tel Aviv was not the tourist pretty version. We saw her when she was tired, filled with hot people who had endured a summer of bombs falling and being the brunt of international tension.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

She is a city that grew quickly and then, somehow, broke.  Graffiti on what felt like all available surfaces in the areas in which we found ourselves. Dirty and shell-shocked.

Yafo, or ancient Jaffa, is on our list of places to visit.  Eventually.  When I can make it back to the city.

Thursday afternoon, September 18th, we arrived in the Jerusalem Central Bus Terminal.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

The drive was uneventful, the directions were excellent, and while I was still 20 seconds away from a good cry, I felt a bit more optomistic.  Hoping, with all my fingers crossed, that there was an easy way to get to where I needed to be.

“He said he’d come pick us up at the station.” Brian said.

“Are you serious? He’s an angel!”

And then we were there, Yerushalyim.

The air was clean and a cool, dry breeze that immediately refreshed us drifted through a modern, familiar feeling station.  I can’t explain it, but, believe me, Jerusalem is different.  In every good way.

Squeezing all four of us, the backpacks and one small carryon, into the back of his little car was a feat but we managed and then, we were here.

In a small, cozy apartment with two goofy cats alternating between being afraid of everything (the little one) to being snuggly and sweet the rest of the time (the big one), we have a sense of refuge from all that is new and overwhelming, a launching pad for what is to become the parameters of our adventure.

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Image credit: Dillon Stone - InternationalBrofari

Brian and the boys went exploring our first afternoon here, while I collapsed onto the bed, wrestling again with the enormity of what we had done, reading Psalms 34 again and then onto Psalm 37,

“Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.”

I asked Isaac to tell me five reasons he was thrilled to be here.   One of the things he said that resonated most deeply is this:

 “I like experiencing Israeli culture.  People are people wherever you go.  They all have their reasons for what they do and why.  I’m glad we get to be here, with them.”

So, following his lead, resolving to embrace every day to the fullest, I vowed to not stay behind again.

As much as I can, I will not wallow in the overwhelming but rejoice in the goodness of God and lean on three amazingly brave world travellers who are sleeping near me on this Shabbos morning.

It’s a beautiful, still, peaceful morning where car horns don’t honk, loud music doesn’t inundate us from downstairs, no one is shouting on the street, and we have the day to be still and remember.

Yesterday, after getting up at 4:30, eating breakfast and chocolate cake, taking time to have family devotions, and planning our day around the closing of the shops, we conquered public transport, thanks to a brilliant app, in English.

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On a cool, gorgeous, morning we walked toward the Kotel, the Western Wall, and joined with hundreds of others from multiple faith backgrounds, or no faith at all, at this ancient site drenched in tears and constant prayer.

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Image credit: Dillon Stone - InternationalBrofari

We stopped and we prayed there.  Quietly and alone, my iphone open to some scriptures and remembrances that opened my heart to being there among these beautiful people, I sat in the white plastic chair on the women’s side.

The boys and Brian, kippot in place, walked shoulder to shoulder through the rippling crowd of men in tallit and phylacteries, dark black hats, and weaving around awkwardly dressed tourists, they came to the very foundation stones of The Wall.

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Image credit: Isaac Stone - InternationalBrofari

There they prayed, thanking God who had brought us to This Day, although we still aren’t sure why.

Praises.  Joy.  Laughter.  Israeli bread.

Life is full of good things. When I take the time to see them, I too become filled with good things.  Life is also full of new, and scary, and indescribable uncertainty.  When I look only on those things, then that too is what I become filled with and it burns like fire through my tiny faith.

So, here we are.

We are intent on living well here. Right here.

The most precious gifts, my husband and children are with me and they are enjoying every second of this adventure.  I am filled with gratitude for the gift of instant communication with those whom I love and cherish in the country I called home for the past 40 years.  Looking forward, there is a bright and shiny new future out in front of us.

Even though this vision is blurred and dim, for the moment, we serve a God who specializes in making beauty from ashes, turning mourning into joy.

His son, David, said,

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.”

I believe him.

In the wee hours of a Shabbat morning, while the fan rotates and the cats chase each other, the men are stirring, and the day is stretching long and still in front of us.

I believe and the Lord strengthens me and bolsters my resolve, giving me genuine joy, peace, confidence and hope where days before I had been filled with fear and wild speculation, anxiety and dread.

That feeling?  Is what I can only call,

Shalom.

 

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  • Robynne

    Amein, Heidi!
    Praying His Peace and a heart full of child-like wonder as you navigate this next chapter in your lives!
    Robynne

    • Heidi Stone

      it’s remarkable how close He feels when I am struggling. So faithful is our GOd. Thank you for your prayers!! Don’t stop!!!