Thursday was my anniversary. One year. One year since I arrived in this dusty, dry, confusing land. One year that I have gotten to call this amazing place my home. So after class I played Klezmer on my violin in Zion Gate, went grocery shopping in the Shuk, and walked through Gan Sacher. The other day one of my friends asked me how long I had been here and when I told him almost a year, he told me I was Israeli. My heart smiled.
Even though I’m going back to the States, I love NYC, and I’m so ready to get there after waiting for 7 years, there is always going to be a little corner of my heart here in this place–this dry, difficult land with so much confusion. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed with trying to figure it all out. Life here is special, but life here is hard. Things are messy. Things are complicated. Sometimes I just get so tired.
One year ago, I was looking forward. A new chapter in my life was starting, and I had no idea what things were going to happen. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.I might have packed up and gone home.
These streets of Jerusalem have seen me day after day, sometimes walking the same streets several times a day. These streets have seen me in almost every state imaginable. These streets have seen me happy and completely at peace, freezing cold and soaking wet while counting how many dead umbrellas between my apartment and congregation, blazing hot and ready to collapse while wondering how I’m gonna make it up that hill will my violin on my back. They have caught me when I tripped on the slippery stones, and when I could barely make it up the street because of the tears streaming down my face, or when I wave at the old construction worker on my way to the bus stop in the morning. They have heard me practicing Hebrew vocab with my little notebook in my hand, they have heard my worship, and my desperate prayers. These streets have seen it all and hold so many of my secrets. They know me now.
When i came I didn’t know what the story of this year would be. I could have written one. A perfect one. But…the stories we plan for ourselves rarely end up looking like the ones God has in mind. Sometimes the stories aren’t ones we want, and sometimes God gives us a different ending than what we would have written. But I think the hardest ones are the ones that don’t have an ending. The things that don’t tie up neatly. The questions that remain unanswered. When we are left with memories that we have no explanations for. And a little stab of pain that you know will pop up and catch you unaware at the most random times.
But I’m convinced there is still a reason for the unresolved chapters. Maybe It wasn’t about your story. Maybe you were just a part of someone else’s story. You brushed up against their life for a reason, and even though it didn’t get resolved for you, that wasn’t the point because it wasn’t about you. But it was supposed to happen. You prayed desperately and earnestly and it was supposed to happen. Am I willing to be used for the good of someone else and their story even if it leaves me feeling pain and a lack of closure? Do I really love, or am I just concerned about what I get from others?
This is an incredible and special place, but in a deep, complicated, somewhat harsh and messy way. Like the winding streets of the Old City there are layers upon layers of things to discover and other turns to take. Sometimes you can get lost. My heart has broken in this place, but my heart has also been full and seen intense beauty. I’ve had moments of deep doubt and frustration, and moments of complete peace and rest in knowing that every second I have been here was planned by Yeshua.
So I leave in a little over a week. This little hobbit is going back to the Shire via Italy and New York to spend a few weeks with my family (my nephew is going to love me whether he wants to or not!) before setting off on the next adventure of starting life in NYC. I take my exam Sunday morning and fly out early on Monday. I was trying to think about final things I want to do and see before I leave, but there isn’t a really long list. I want to live my last week here as someone who belongs and calls this place home, not as a tourist. So I’ll go to Christ Church on Sunday and play my violin in Zion Gate. I’ll go to orchestra practice on Monday night, and I’ll get my 5 shekel iced coffee from cofizz (best iced coffee EVER). Maybe I’ll get one more freshly baked hot pita from my cute little breadman in the Shuk. And I’ll keep walking my streets. I hope they will keep my secrets well. And maybe someday I’ll be back…