Well, for me, next year is here. I am in Jerusalem.
If you want to read a very interesting non-fiction account of Jerusalem from a historically religious perspective, I suggest ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem’ by James Carroll. If you want to read a fictional account of ‘Jerusalem fever and fervor’ I suggest ‘Damascus Gate’ by Robert Stone.
If, however, you want to read about my journey as I settle into a foreign land amid a myriad of cultures, you have found the right spot.
I do not know how this blog will formulate itself. And I am not sure what voice it will take. So this is our adventure. I will try to attempt to convey how I feel and what I am doing as I spend the next few years here.
So to begin…
This is my life in 3 suitcases and a myriad of boxes stored about Los Angeles (none of the contents of which I can now even remember).
But how did this start? I think that when we throw our lives into the hands of the Universe, we better be ready for the ride of our lives. My mutterings began with the feeling of being overburdened, too much stuff, no room to breathe. And the process of ridding myself of stuff began slowly - a thing here, an item there, a bag of clothes to Goodwill every now and then. Until there was a landslide of stuff just moving out of my house, into the yard, onto trucks, into cars and away everything went. And the stuff I thought I could never get rid of became the stuff I gave away with such satisfaction. The flowered couches went to a family with a new home; the antique bedroom set went to a single mother starting over, even as the last moments of being in my house ticked away, the last bed went to a young man and his pregnant girlfriend. My beautiful rocking chair rocks gently in a monastic community. It is all perfect. I almost wish I had more stuff just to give away. It really felt good.
[And the stories between the lines – I was able to sleep on a bed until my last day. How great is God that I should be able to sleep in comfort until the time I didn’t need a bed anymore.
And my girlfriends from Montreal, each visiting just when I needed them to help me begin this process and support me in my decisions.
And my children, loving me and encouraging me, taking deep breaths of their own and starting off on their own adventures.
And my colleagues and friends, helping me so much, taking things, moving things, storing things and loving me. I didn’t realize how much I am loved. And I love them all, too.]
And in the process of giving away, I also began to receive. Which in an odd way is more difficult. I understand the feeling of delight in the joy of watching someone receive what I have given but to be on the receiving end, and receive graciously and without wondering what have I done to deserve this was not, is not, an easy task. ‘No, no’ I say, ‘you don’t have to do this.’ But in not allowing my friends to give to me, I deny them the same sense of joy I had in giving. So my lesson is to accept whatever comes my way and know that it is the Universe in balance.
I am excited. I want to say I am nervous but I’m not. I lay in bed at night waiting to feel anxious or scared or crazy and it just doesn’t come. I feel totally at peace with my decisions. I am looking forward to a new culture, new friends, new experiences. I am going to a country torn by strife and discord but I am going with a peaceful heart. I really don’t expect to be able to do anything but love whomever I meet and give them some support by trying to understanding even a little of what they are living with. To be honest, I really don’t know what to expect. I will just live it as it happens.
I have a deep faith in God and I trust that I am where I am supposed to be and that I am going where I am supposed to go. However, to get there I must be willing to take a deep breath and jump. I believe in breathing and jumping - taking a leap of faith. I think faith itself is a leap. I don’t know how else to explain it. Anyway, I have left my good job in Los Angeles, rented out my house and am heading to Jerusalem.
So now I am here. I work for the Foreign and Domestic Mission Society of the Episcopal Church. What I do is support the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem.