So here’s the truth: I’m at the point where every day here feels like a victory. I don’t mean that as a note of some sort of awfulness in my life. Life here isn’t awful at all. It’s fine. I’m lucky to be in a place where I can usually feel safe. I’m lucky to be in a place where I can learn and explore with some degree of comfort and, at this point, familiarity. I’m lucky to have formed significant friendships with colleagues from other rabbinical schools. I’m lucky to enjoy my apartment in Jaffa, my neighborhood, and the ocean that makes up one of its borders.
But, I’m kinda done. I have been in Israel for a long time, and I am ready to come home, and this is the in between stage where I can’t quite start getting ready to come home, and at the same time I can’t quite feel settled anymore. I’m at the point where when the milk runs out I’ll replace it, but when the turbinado sugar runs out I’ll switch to brown sugar for my coffee. I’m at the point where I still find my classes valuable, but if my classes were to end, I wouldn’t be upset. I’m at the point where if I had a chance to leave tomorrow, I would say “wait a sec,” but if I had a chance to leave in one week instead of in four, I’d gladly take it.
I suppose I have the Israel year equivalent of senioritis. This experience has been valuable. It’s had its ups and downs. It continues to be just fine. And I’m ready for it to come to an end.
My biggest battle right now is between me and my sense of presence. Two weeks from now, I think it’ll be appropriate for me to feel like I’ve got one foot out the door. I’ll be about to head into my last week of class. I might stop replacing the milk. I’ll be starting the process of organizing my stuff into “take” and “leave” piles. I’ll be preparing to say goodbye to most of my friends here, who will leave before me. I’ll be thinking very deliberately about the places I want to see one more time, the foods I want to eat, the walks I want to take, the waters I want to swim in.
But it’s not time for that yet. Ok, it’s time to plan the Israel year bucket list more deliberately (and I basically have), but it’s not really time for any of the rest. For the next two weeks, I need to keep my brain definitively here.
Spring is helpful for that. We’re in the thick of it now– the heavy, layered, bountiful, wild green cradling flowers of all colors. Every moment of being outside calls for presence. “Look!,” the trees call with their pink buds. “Look!,” the bushes call with their bright blossoms. “Look!,” the leaves call as I pass beneath on my walks to school and to the beach and to the bus station. I listen. I look. I paused. I breathe. I try to remember that I am here.
Every day is a victory. Every day is one day closer to returning home. And every day is a chance to be here. So this week’s blessing is a poem by John O’Donohue, offering praise for presence and possibility at once.
I give thanks for arriving safely in a new dawn,
For the gift of eyes to see the world,
The gift of mind to feel at home
In my life, the waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger,
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring.