Walking through the streets of the old city last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I was feeling. It was a strange feeling. We had just finished a simple Shabbat meal at the hostel, and two of us were walking to the Wall to pray, excorted by the youngest member of our group.
As I walked the ancient path, I couldn’t help but feel at home – that I was right where I belonged. Not on a permanent basis, but as a second place to call home. You know, like that friend you had as a child; the one where you would drop in and their mother was also yours, where even if your friend wasn’t home, you hung out for a little while because somehow you fit right in with the ebb and flow of that other family.
That’s what I’m feeling. The awe, excitement, and curiosity I felt last year as I experienced the Land for the first time was replaced by this sense of belonging, of being in my second home. With that is the surity that I will be welcomed any time I come – even if my Friend is not home.
And that’s the funny thing. Once more, I am thinking along the lines of ‘next time’. Next time, I will do things a little different when it comes to organizing a group. There is a sense that there will be a next time, that this is part of what I’m called to do – to help make it affordable for people to come to the Land, to make the trip long enough to experience that Land, to help the group become part of the ebb and flow of the Land, rather than just tourists.
Doing this also blesses the people of the Land. I mentioned before that because I live in south Florida where tourism is our top source of income, I understand how the people suffer when there is threat of war and terrorism. When we have a hurricane threat, the restaurants are empty, the tourist sites are bare, and the hotels have plenty of vacancies.
Those who depend on tourism for a living truly suffer when outside circumstances prevent them from earning a living. It effects nearly everyone in south Florida, as I’m sure it does here. So I want to help people realize that it is safe to visit here.
The other day I was talking to one of the ladies in the group, and she said if I did this again, she would like to return. Since that conversation, she (like Maria and I last year) talks about ‘next time’.
So…will you be with us next time?