Monday, June 21, 2010

A Farewell to Israel

     The next day we had to head back across the border into Jordan, and I was glad. I was ready to leave.  This was not my promised land, and I knew that it would take awhile for me to digest all that I had seen and felt, and thought about this place. It's hard to even write about it, to try to capture it, to do it justice when so many people have visited there, many on their own pilgrimages. Millions of visitors to Israel have been spiritually moved by their experiences, so for me to say that I had mixed emotions about it seems almost heretical. But I don't want to lie. I don't even want to exaggerate. Not this. It's too important. This land is a part of my Judeo-Christian heritage, and so it does mean something. It just didn't feel right is all I'm saying. It didn't seem as holy as I expected it to be, or as I wanted it to be. It seemed sick. Like it had been cut off from something living. Its past and its glory were being remembered; it was being excavated, dissected, researched, and written about. It was being cried over, argued over, fought over. But no one can bring that past back! You can dig it up, put it in a museum. You can preach sermons about it. You can teach history lessons about it. But you can't go back. History keeps being made. And now, Israel needs weapons and money to survive. Now, its climate is more political than it is religious. And I guess that's what I felt. And I was ready to go crawl back into my hole at Abila, the one I was digging that dated further back in time to before Moses was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the "Promised Land;" to before the temple was ever even built; to before Jerusalem was burnt to the ground; to before, before . . what? How far back does one have to dig to find even one civilization that existed before mankind started being so arrogant, so selfish, so greedy, so quarrelsome?

     Well, I was headed back across Israel's border again, a border defended by scattered land mines, razor wire fences, and automatic machine guns. What was I even doing here? Learning something useful? Seeing things for myself so that I might become more interested in history, in the Bible, in politics? So that I could go back home, back to my church and say that I had been to the Holy Land? And share what message? Tell people what? In the end, I didn't have to worry because J would take care of all that. Me? I just needed to be still.