In Karem Maharal it was only possible to receive packages for a half hour in the mornings when the postman sorted the mail each day. I sat beside the row of mailboxes, waiting for the truck to arrive, as costumed children passed me on their way to kindergarten. Overhead, storks were migrating from Africa to eastern Europe for the summer. They don’t fly in formation. The large, efficient feathered foul are lifted in chimneys of air and then they glide on the current until another chimney of air lifts them again. The flock was random and graceful drifting about in the sky. Quite beautiful, actually! When the little red truck finally pulled up and the postman jumped out, I stared at his sack, willing my solar charger to be in it. But alas, the storks notwithstanding, there was no parcel of joy for me.
I said a fond farewell to the Penn’s, having decided to leave before the Purim festivities. Before I left, their Ferrier, who is also an Apiculturist, arrived and offered to treat my ankles with targeted bee stings. He showed me the stings where he had treated his own sore wrist that morning, and those of his apprentice. I thought about it, I really did, but in the end, I didn’t have the guts. I caught various lifts from kind people and slowly made my way back to the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater sea on earth.
The husband of one couple who gave me a lift was in the Israeli army. He said he commands 500 soldiers and when he goes home, he is the soldier. He said, even his little daughter tells him what to do. His wife just smiled. Two weeks ago he was non-fatally (obviously) stabbed and then he shot the terrorist dead. I knew that being a career soldier here is a dangerous business but hearing the story, said with such equanimity, made it all very real.
Another couple stopped at a nursery where I was attempting to buy seeds for a wild plant named Louisa (commonly mixed with sage and lemongrass for a delicious evening tea). They drove me a good part of the way and when they dropped me off, gave me a little container of ointment and one of their garden grapefruits that was twice the size of the biggest grapefruit I have ever seen. And sweet – oh my goodness! I sat on the side of the road and ate the whole thing.
Initially, the purpose of coming to Israel was for Jen and me, together, to hike the entire trail. To hike long and hike hard. Our ageing bodies laughed at us and, sadly, Jen had to go home. When I decided to carry on alone, pacing myself, my ankles continued laughing (or crying as the case may be). I am now ensconced on the beach and I admit the gears are grinding a little as I downshift into the slow lane once again. I tell myself that going slow is OK, even necessary. I get up in the mornings and instead of hoisting my backpack, I immerse myself in the bracing water of miracles and baptisms, eat a breakfast of tea, bread, hummus and salad. I stretch, read, write, and I look for things. There are a smattering of campers on this free beach during Shabbat but I am alone here during the week and you wouldn’t believe what I have found. I now have two hibachi’s (the Israeli version), briquettes, a comfortable chair, a beach mat, wood, a tablecloth, and lots of other various stuff. All I need is a shopping cart! I have also collected a variety of small, flat stones that I am writing on, in Hebrew, a blessing of peace. I will bring these with me when I leave this beach. When I get home I will try drilling a small hole in each of them for a chain to pass through.
In a couple of days, I plan to return to the Old City in Jerusalem and lay my assorted pebbles and small shards of Roman pottery on the sacred stone where Christ was washed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I would like to give one to each of you for whom this would be meaningful. Let me know by email or comment if you would like one (so I know how many stones to bring). Also, if you have a wish or a prayer that you would like me to leave in the Western Wall, I will attempt to do that. This feels like a good thing for me to set my sights on. Then I will head to Bethlehem.
I am somewhat of a fatalist, always thinking there are reasons for everything. Maybe sometimes, water is just water, but regardless, I will continue drinking up this adventure, wherever it takes me, believing, for better or worse, that my steps are somehow guided. Now, enough philosophizing. Night has claimed the day and it is time to turn my eyes to the far shore and the golden lights of Tiberius. Happy Easter!