I tell the story that when I left Israel last summer, I felt as though I left a piece of myself there that was already working on the next thing I was meant to do. And sure enough, as if my knowing was a direct call from God (duh!), I found out I'd be retuning to this sacred land sooner rather than later.
Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. Our first stop was at a local school called Hand In Hand, which by all accounts is a real time miracle. It is one of six schools in Israel whose student population is both Jewish and Arab. The elementary school classes are taught by co-teachers, one Jewish and one Arab, and all students learn both Hebrew as well as Arabic. As we walked through the campus it looked no different than any other school. But outside the campus there are a great many people who vehemently wish to keep these two groups separate, and would fight, to the death, to make it so. The school, the staff, the parents and most of all the kids are courageous as hell for doing what the politicians can't. They are consciously choosing the side of peace and walk the talk every single day of their lives.
From the school we traveled down the road to Yad Vashem, which is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It was my second visit to this soul clutching place and though it was familiar to me, I think it affected me more this time than the first. From the first room which dictates Hitler's rise to power (eerily similar to 45's), to the last room, The Hall of Names, (the Jewish People’s memorial to each of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust) every picture, every story, every atrocity leaves an indelible mark embedded in your heart not to be forgotten. Not ever.
The sidewalks that connect the campus are collectively called The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. Every tree planted is a dedication to honor those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews. The tree you see here honors Oskar and Emilie Schindler. (Yes, the movie.) This is where the anti-slavery person became the Abolitionist. This is where my neighbor became my brother. This is where good looked evil in the eye and said, "Not on my watch MF."
After a falafel stop and a taxi ride, a handful of us peeled off to do Rampart's Walk, an hidden treasure whereby you view the city of Jerusalem as you walk on most of the ancient city’s walls. More than anything really, that walk was a reminder that to find your way out you have to find your way through and that getting lost is a necessary part of the process. Blisters and all.
I finished the evening with a magical light show, a delicious meal, meaningful conversations and FaceTime my husband and kid. Now, as I type this note, I'm lying in bed, in my cozy pjs, ever grateful for all that's led me here, all that I kneel before and all that lies on the wing of tomorrow.
I am here. Ready. Listening.