Each day on our journey here in Israel has been, for me, a day of dream fulfillment. But none so much as the last two days, and in particular today. I can still see the room where the orientation meeting for my first try at going to Israel was held at the University of Missouri – Kansas City when I was 20 years old — I can see Dr. Schulz and Dr. Klausner talking about what the trip would be like. And I can remember the feeling of disappointment when the trip was cancelled for some reason that I do not recall. And I can remember just this last fall my feeling of disorientation when once again a trip needed to be cancelled for geopolitical reasons beyond my control.
So imagine my excitement just 9 days ago when I was finally on that plane in Philadelphia headed to Tel Aviv. And even then, I could not have understood what this trip would mean to me.
I could not have understood what it would mean yesterday to stand in the Ecce Homo Convent of the order Notre Dame de Sion where my beloved mentor in archaeology, Sr. Betty Curtis White, trained and lived as she worked on digs around this country, and where she spent the last days of her long and amazing life.
I could not have understood the simple inspiration to come from looking at the ever changing landscape of this land out a bus window.
I could not have understood the affect of time spent together with people I might have otherwise not ever met and the ways in which their kindness and care and joy would touch my life forever.
And most of all, I could not have understood the gift that was given me by the simple chance to sit in a cave with a trowel and a pick and dig in the dirt as I had always dreamed — to be an archaeologist for just a few moments. This was a gift beyond measure to my heart and to my soul as well as an act of completion and healing that will live far beyond this trip.
I am only beginning to understand all these things and more. But I do understand one thing quite clearly — I have been given a rare opportunity to really live the dream of a lifetime. And to all those who made this possible, I am eternally grateful.
Shalom. Did you know if means not just peace, but wholeness? That’s the gift I’ve received on this trip. Shalom.