For the next two weeks, I’ll be participating in The Scintilla Project. What that means: they’ll be e-mailing me prompts, and I’ll be writing on them. And if I fall behind, maybe this whole experiment will drag out for more than two weeks.
Day 6: Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.
When I signed up for Scintilla, I hoped that some of the prompts would allow me the chance to start untangling the mess of stories that is Israel. Beka is there right now on her Birthright trip and she so perfectly put into words what I could not when she wrote, “I am so full, I can’t even process individual events.”
I converted to Judaism about four years ago. And before that, Israel was a place that other people went. The Holy Land was a place that other people visited.
Have you noticed that I separate a lot of things in my life into the categories of Things That We Do and Things That Other People Do a lot? Because I have.
In the blink of an eye, Israel was a place that I Had To See. Which I sort of resented. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because the impetus for my going wasn’t mine. It was An Expectation.
So I hope you can understand, how I found it all to be quite surreal that I ended up in a place that was so very far away. And a place that was so very important to so many people.
It was not entirely unlike watching a This Is Your Life-style clip, Ben Gurion International Airport-edition.
I was there. I had made it to the place that others knew as home.
I boarded our bus in Tel Aviv and one of our trip leaders immediately said, Hey Kat, these girls are from Minnesota as well. I was on a trip that was meant to be for people from Chicago – that I was even on this particular trip was a happy accident of sorts.
And when I turned around to look at these fellow residents of the Tundra, I was greeted by the face of a girl I graduated from high school with and her younger sister.
Several days later I would learn that one of our Israelis, Yair, that his father had immigrated to Israel from St. Paul in the ’80s.
I had traveled thousands of miles to find home surrounding me.
Meeting me where I was at.
On the night before we left, Yair gave me this pin from his beret, signifying the corps he was in. And it was all very bittersweet, because Israel is not a place that you can unsee or unlive.
Over the course of 10 days, that place left thousands of invisible marks on me. Marks I will be discovering for decades to come.
But with that I brought some of home back Home.