When I first started writing blogs for Travelujah, I thought, yeah, I’ll have a blog done every week, no problem. Oh, but it’s been a problem. I’m so busy!
The point of that is really to say that here in Israel, life happens. Life doesn’t come to a halt because a rocket was fired. People don’t go indoors and live in fear. Things don’t shut down. People don’t shut down. The only time anything shuts down is regularly, every Friday, on Shabbat! But Shabbat is another story… The fact is that life is happening here in Israel, and life is a busy thing. I’m busy living it in a place where people back in the States ask me whenever I want them to come and visit, “Is it safe?” Well, no, but I thought you could at least have some interesting stories to tell when you get home – if you make it home, that is. Of course it’s safe. I live here. Every day. I’m having life here. And it’s keeping me very busy!
Not once have I felt unsafe. Not even in the time I have spent in the West Bank have I felt unsafe. Not when rockets were being fired from Gaza, not when Israel had to bomb a weapons convoy going form Syria to Lebanon, not during Pillar of Defense, not when air raid sirens have sounded, not when I’m walking down the street at night, not when I’m sitting at a dark bus stop all by myself, not when I’m on the bus or on the train, not in any of the day trips and tourist places I’ve been in the country, never. Not once have I felt unsafe. Not once have I felt fearful.
Peaceful sky in Herzliya. Not a care in the world… except for finals…
It is hard to comprehend when you’re in Israel how small the place you are in is. As I’m walking around every day, I have no concept that I’m in a tiny country. It goes from a windy northern border with Lebanon and Syria, to lush with trees and cool shade, to rocky, grassy hills with grazing sheep, to the Dead Sea, to rugged, baking desert complete with camels. Israel is an amazing and diverse strip of land. So many stories happened here. So many feet walked this land. The roots and histories of so many peoples come from here. Sometimes, in the middle of what I’m doing, I look around me and think to myself in amazement that I still can hardly believe I am here.
I have many peaceful moments in my apartment in Ra’anana. I’m not far form the marina of Herzliya. I could go to the ocean several times a week if I really wanted to. I can walk around my own city and see an abundance of beautiful plants and flowers. When I’m at home studying, I relax with homemade tzatziki and homemade fizzy lemonade, open the windows and let the breeze flow through the room. The birds are always chirping away outside. I can hear them outside in the morning as I’m waking up. I can hear them now in the evening as I sit writing this, and I am reminded of Matthew 6:26:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
What’s true is true everywhere, no matter where you go. God reminded me of that when I first got to Israel. He said, “All of this is mine, no matter where you are, and nothing changes just because you are here.” What He meant was that I need not worry about anything being in a new country, knowing no one, not even able to name one Hebrew letter. Matthew 6:26 is not about food; it is about God caring for us. Period. And even in the heart of an unstable region where Israel seems to stand alone, I can, and do, walk the streets, ride the bus, lay in the sun on the rooftop, and sleep at night with peace that, indeed, I am safe.
People live here, after all. Israel is not a war torn and rough living environment. Neighbors are up on their rooftops grilling at night. City lights can be seen from the patio. Beautiful dresses are displayed on mannequins in store windows. Women go get their hair and nails done. People go out for gelato and pizza. It’s life. We’re living it here in Israel with nothing to fear. I can still hardly believe that I am here.