Today Jews celebrate Purim, the remembrance of Queen Esther’s bravery that saved the Jews of Persia from annihilation. If you are interested, the biblical book of Esther tells the story. To this day Queen Esther’s story is taught in schools in Iran as part of their history when they study the Chronicles of the Kings of Iran (as told to me by an Iranian friend years ago.)
One Small Step (Written over a year ago….then lost amongst all the other unpublished drafts in my folder!)
As you who read my blog know, I was recently in Chicago to meet my infant grandson and help my youngest daughter and her partner as they acclimated to their new roles as parents. Those of you who have the pleasure of being grandparents know how exciting and frightening those first few days can be. From fumbling with diapers, to getting up with every gurgle, grunt and groan that emits from the wee one, to simply gazing in awe at this new life your children have brought forth, the first days of a person’s life is a wonder to behold. Of course, knowing the demands that await these two loving parents, my job was to give them the space they needed to enjoy the newness of parenthood. Washing clothes or dishes, offering encouraging words, or simply holding Eli so my daughter could have a few minutes for self pampering, all of it was a labor of love for Mary, Eric, and little Elijah.
Beyond the pragmatic though, were moments of contemplation. As I studied Eli’s face, or felt the tug of his little fingers on my pinky, or massaged his tiny feet (he likes that!) I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of world Eli would inherit from us. These insular moments of infancy where all of his needs would be provided for, where nurture was abundant, where his world consisted of his parents and himself with the rest of us orbiting about from time to time, would soon enough give way to the broader world of scraped knees and hurt feelings. Would the bigger world be kind to Eli? Would he weather the storms to eventually become a man of strength and honor? Heady questions for such a little one, but at times the thoughts crossed my mind.
Too soon I had to return home. As much as I loved spending time with this precious family, I missed my husband. Before long it would be time to start preparing for Passover. We are nearing the closing date on the purchase of our new home and I needed to start packing . . . again. My daughter and I shared tears as I left. She tugged at my heartstrings. After all, she is my baby. Her tears were those of a new mother who wanted her mother to stay just a tad longer. I knew in those moments though, something she was still unsure of, that she and Eric were fine parents and would do well without me. I was no longer needed there. The tears were an expression of love on both of our parts.
As I boarded the train into Chicago, my heart was now beating for home. Later that day, as I boarded the Megabus that would take me back to Cleveland, I noticed that there was an unusually large number of boarders for this trip. Instead of having a seat to myself to stretch out and relax, or to read or work on final projects for class, I was relegated to tucking my backpack under my seat and holding purse, camera, coat, and travel pillow in my lap as a total stranger took the seat next to me. It was going to be an uncomfortable six hour trip for sure. To top it off, the man who sat next to me was a Muslim. I am Jewish. Oy . . . All I could think of was that he would probably give me grief if or when he found out my identity. Oh well. I would make the best of it. This was the first time I had ever traveled by Megabus where we were packed in like sardines.
Soon after the bus pulled out and we were headed back home, the young man next to me opened up a package of cookies and offered me a cookie.
“No thank you,” I replied.
“I apologize for having to take up your space,” he offered in a soft voice.
“No problem” said I.
“Do you come to Chicago very often?” he pursued.
“When I can. My daughters live here. What about you?”
“This is my first time here. Chicago is a beautiful city.”
Detecting an accent, I asked, “Where is your home?”
“Istanbul, Turkey. Have you ever been there?”
“No, afraid not.”
It didn’t take long for the conversation to get around to religion. Maybe he noticed that I wore a cap, or maybe he was just curious. He volunteered that he was Muslim, Sunni to be exact.
“Are you a religious person?” he asked.
“Yes, I am. Jewish. Orthodox” I replied.
By now I was uneasy but I was not going to shy away from the fact that my Jewishness defines who I am and how I live in this world.
The conversation continued for the remainder of the trip. For six hours we discussed our beliefs, our similarities, our differences, our families and customs. For six hours we laughed, at moments treading softly not knowing how the other would respond. I questioned Muslim practices that to me seemed strange, and he did the same with me concerning Jewish observances. Always respectful, Ibrihim appeared to relish the discussion as much as I did. We talked about prayer and what our different prayers meant to us, about our holy writings and their importance in our lives. We talked about the differences of growing up in the US versus life for him in Turkey. Respect of one’s elders (he nodded to me when he spoke about this) was of utmost importance and how it pained him to see such disrespect in this country. I questioned him on the things I read about the treatment of women in that part of the world. We tiptoed around the tensions in the middle east. Yet, despite a little unease on that subject, he was the one who concluded that I must return to Israel, the homeland of the Jews. He was the one who observed that my soul would always be restless till the day I set foot in our land.
The hours flew by. I learned a lot on this trip home from Chicago. When we arrived at our destination, he thanked me for being such a gracious seat partner on our journey. I wished him well in his studies and his future endeavors, then he disappeared into the crowd. As I stepped off the bus (midnight) my husband was there to greet me. And I was full of news about our newest grandchild, Elijah. I was glad to be back home. I was thrilled to fill “Zaide” in on all the details about Elijah. But I would not forget about my trip back from Chicago, either.
Now, days later, I am encouraged about the world that Elijah will inherit. There are no guarantees in life, no way of knowing what will be. But I am reassured of what is possible. When Jew and Muslim can talk there is hope. Certain segments of society will never sit down to the negotiating table. I know that. And as long as rockets are being lobbed into Israel (daily they fall on Israel!) how can there be talk of peace? On the other hand, when common people can talk about their similarities and differences, there is hope. And that gives me hope for our precious Elijah and the world he will inherit.
- On being Jewish abroad… (teddynykiel.wordpress.com)
- In an Ocean of Islamic Hatred We Discovered True Friends (jewishpress.com)
And the Good News Is . . .
I really tried to write a substantive post today (this was late Thursday night) but life keeps on ticking and responsibilities are . . . well . . . responsibilities. This is good, but at times I, being a somewhat responsible person, don’t get to do what I want to do. Someone once told me that I could do/be/have anything I wanted, I just couldn’t do/be/have everything I wanted. In a nutshell, I have to make choices. I am not talking about earth-shattering, life-changing choices today, just the everyday, run-of-the-mill choices we all have to make. For instance, I really wanted to go to the lake this evening to shoot some sunset photographs. Instead I washed clothes. . . four loads to be exact. Another for instance, I wanted to venture out with my camera to take a long walk at a nearby park. Instead I worked on resumes and actually submitted two. The entire day was like that: dishes washed, clothes washed, dried and folded, carpet vacuumed, furniture dusted, silver polished (yes, I polish silver.)
Our western culture (USA) strongly encourages us to do what we want, don’t let mundane responsibilities get in the way of enjoying life; make big bucks and retire early, etc. There are certainly times when the healthier thing to do is to leave the clothes for another day, or postpone the vacuuming until the evening. But today was not one of those times. I missed out on some fun activities~my choice. No one forced me. I didn’t write the beautifully profound post that I had hoped for. No lake. No park. But the good news is that I accomplished a lot of things that make our lives more orderly and manageable.
Generally, if given the choice, I opt for the more free-spirited adventures (well, “adventure” is overstating a bit). But when the free-spirited, do what you want activities rule our lives, left unchecked, chaos ensues and stresses mount.
The good news is that clothes are clean, resumes submitted, apartment neat, a lot accomplished. A load of mini-worries was addressed and are off my agenda (for a bit). This is good because scheduled activities for the next two weeks are daunting. Courses for the next quarter open tomorrow (so I’m back in classes for 10 weeks!). Yom Kippur begins at sunset tomorrow (Friday) and continues for 25 hours. The Festival of Booths (Succot) begins Wednesday night and goes through Saturday night, followed by the same next week.
This maddening schedule for the upcoming days presents a dilemma. Blogging has become part of my life. I thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoy reading your blogs and getting to know you. I enjoy seeing you at my site and reading your comments. For the next 10 weeks though, I will have to make choices. My proclivity is to blog everyday (I have two blogs in addition to this one) and to spend hours reading what you have to say at your sites. On the other hand, I have a responsibility to others (and myself) that will require a great deal of time and energy. In the long run however, I have a dream and for the past year and a half I have made strides toward fulfilling that dream. Blogging fits into that puzzle, but so does becoming a licensed professional clinical counselor. The daily grind gets old, and frankly a bit boring at times, as does washing clothes or working on resumes. But the vision of reaching my dream and accomplishing my goals motivates me to keep engaging the not-so-fun activities because anticipation of the fun to come when I reach the prize is priceless.
So, the good news is I accomplished a lot today by being responsible and doing boring chores. Things got done. The good news is tomorrow another quarter begins that, while it may be trying and even boring at times, will move me closer to my goal. The good news is tomorrow evening begins Yom Kippur and next week more holidays as we make atonement for the mistakes of the past and plan to do better in the future. The good news is, this is all good news.
No beautiful sunsets tonight, but there will be others to see on another day. No profoundly wonderful or spellbinding post for this blog now, but that, too, will be written another time. Tonight my eye is on larger, life-enriching goals. My presence, as in quarters past, will be more sparse for a while depending on the rhythm of my classes, but I’ll still pop my head in and try to keep up with what’s going on in the blogging world and with my blogging friends if not daily, then hopefully weekly.
Y’all have a great weekend, and I’ll see you soon! 🙂
- Remembering Yom Kippur 2011 (jewishvoice.wordpress.com)
- 10 sec read: Yom Kippur (ENG, PORT, ESPA) (paulocoelhoblog.com)
- The Segal Guide to Fasting on Yom Kippur (aitzchaim.com)
- Israel set to come to complete standstill on Yom Kippur (roshpinaproject.com)
- “The ‘one day’ of year is now upon us” (bokertov.typepad.com)
- Yom Kippur Service at Occupy Wall Street (wilderside.wordpress.com)
Last week did not go according to plan. As my dad (and others) says, “We plan and G-d laughs.” Unexpected illness (is it ever expected?) knocked me out of commission for almost the entire week. In fact, I’m still recovering. The eye infection has been scary. . .vision still “ain’t” what it was. It so happens that last week was also the last week of the school (Capella) quarter. Due to the fact that I was almost blind, I could not finish my final projects and had to take “incompletes” in my course work. So, even though my eyes are giving me fits and I can only read for short spells, I am spending this week~a week that should have been filled with relaxation and fun as I celebrated completing another quarter~finishing up papers and projects. I submitted one paper last night, two more to go.
There is a bright spot in the midst of these irritations however, my son and his family (wife Maria and daughter Genevieve) spent part of the weekend with us. There is absolutely nothing like children and grandchildren to brighten our days. Weather-wise, we could not have asked for better. Spring is here.
Sunday was also Purim, the day we celebrate Queen Esther‘s bravery that saved the Jews. It is a day of celebrating, giving charity, sharing food, and feasting as we remember the events in ancient Persia that saved us from annihilation.
As you can see, this past week was a mixed bag. I missed a blog post, but maybe this will make up for it. I wanted to write something profound and beautiful, but it just wasn’t happening for me this time. Now I must sign off and get back to writing papers. If I can finish my courses by Wednesday evening, Richard and I will celebrate by taking in a movie. (Seniors’ day is every Wednesday~we get in for $4.50 each, so that is a “cheap” but fun date for us!) Make the most of your days, and I’ll “see” you next time!
My blogger friend at Mirth and Motivation ( http://eof737.wordpress.com ) nominated me. Now I get to do the same for you! The rules, if one accepts the award are as follow:
✿♡✿The Versatile Blogger Rules:
1. Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post.
2. Tell 7 Random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers.
4. Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it... or not.
So, here goes!
1. THANK YOU ELIZABETH!
2. Seven random facts: I love to photograph and write; I am a grad student in Mental Health Counseling; I love being a grandma to Jacob and Genevieve; Taking walks in natural surroundings is a favorite pastime; Sewing and crocheting are hobbies. . .at least when I’m not in school; I make note cards and plan to start selling them soon!; My husband, Richard, is a really really good guy!
3 and 4 will take some time, but I’ll get it done!
Again, Thanks Elizabeth! Very thoughtful of you. (pssst, if you are reading this, check out Elizabeth’s blog. It is very inspirational. See link above)