As I look toward my excursion to Israel, my head is heavy in thought. Perhaps this is natural. The Middle East is filled with mystery. Many of our modern practices and laws were originated from this part of the world. The Middle East holds the foundation of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Math principles were introduced, studied, and put into practice in ancient Egypt. This is highly advanced stuff. My feet will stand where the ancient land of Canaan once stood. I come from a country 225 years old. It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled across the Atlantic. So much has changed.
I am anxious. I am nervous about the long flight. I will be in the air for twelve hours and crossing multiple time zones. My body isn’t in the same shape it was once. This is always a concern, but I’ve done what I can do to hydrate and prepare. I will be with my family and the thought of slowing their experience is a concern too. We’ve set up a “go ahead” mentality so hopefully that will mitigate the anxiety. We have customs and airlines with which to deal. So, hurry up and wait will be the order of the day.
Logistics aside, the crux of my uneasy feeling is much deeper. My world has suffered tremendous loss. In the span of less 16 months, I’ve lost Jacob, Maxine, and Maureen. These are three people who have forever changed my life. These are three people who represent morality in the world. “Because of you, I’ve been changed, for good.” This is one of the last songs in “Wicked.” Jacob, Max, and Maureen shared the same love for life and pride for their work. They didn’t skip moments. Opportunities didn’t slip by them in a vacuum of regret or what “could have” been. They left us far too young. Those of us who knew Jacob, Max, and Maureen feel the void. As I write this, I just realized something. My wife and daughter may be the only two people, beside me, who knew all three of my pillars of beauty. So, as I make my Middle Eastern exodus, these three people will be with me.
I then shift a focus to my family. My parents (I include in-laws), siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends will share a part of this experience. I hold so many people dear in my heart. This experience seems too grand to hold only to myself so don’t be surprised if you receive a Facetime or WhatsApp from the Western Wall or some other spot that reminds me of you. I value my friends and family and appreciate what everyone has done to support me. I hope this experience allows me time to understand the last few years.
I also travel with a very heavy burden of angst as it relates to a friend. More on this to follow, but please follow my indulgence. The concept of G-d, religion, and spirituality on a clear day is foggy at best to me. I’ve subscribed to multiple religions, and multiple sects within one. My early experiences were that of a loose belief in Christianity. I was told THAT I believe in Jesus, and I even attended confirmation classes for two years. The only that came from that was an affirmation from the minister of Plymouth Church. He came to me the day before my confirmation and told me that, while I completed classes, he would not confirm me. He told me that it was clear I was not a believer. This perplexed me for a long time. I truly appreciate his candor now.
I spent decades “looking” for a reason. Holy shit. <pun intended>. That didn’t work. I became Jewish in my mid-twenties. Of all the religions, Judaism and Islam are the only two that I could even somewhat believe. Before there are any comments, this is NOT an indictment on religion. This is MY EXPERINCE and my beliefs. I’ve seen the destruction of religious zealots and it scares me even more as I’ve seen how what religion has done to overthrow our republic. I am looking forward to embracing what the ancient Hebrews, Muslims, and Christians must have thought as they built their civilizations.
So, more on my heavy burden. My friend came home from Turkey to choose life instead of a “survivalist” mentality. As she wrote in https://jackieacho.com/we-shouldnt-have-to-choose-between-living-and-a-life/, she shouldn’t have to make this decision. “And resume life with the promise of living, as abnormal and imperfect as it is these days.” Jackie illustrates so perfectly that our bodies may limit certain actions, but it will not limit attitude, love, and empathy. Jackie’s health is her story to tell. I only pray to my unknown power, I call “Jacob,” that she is protected. I hope to find some time to reflect on the past and look toward a future filled with that same attitude, love, and empathy.
#JacobStrong #NEGU #Renewal #Israel #Empathy #Life #L’Chaim