Trip to Is­rael brings writer closer to things that mat­ter most

The Globe - - LETTERS - By Jar­reau Free­man

Af­ter I re­turned from a trip to Is­rael, I learned that a wave of vi­o­lence erupted be­tween Is­raeli and Pales­tinian forces. Mis­siles went fly­LnJ LnWo Gaza, aLr raLd sLrens sounded in Jerusalem, in­di­cat­ing pos­si­ble rocket at­tacks, and a bomb det­o­nated near a pub­lic bus in Tel Aviv, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports.

This Is­rael was a much dif­fer­ent Is­rael from the one I ex­pe­ri­enced less than a month ago.

In my brief 2M-some­thing years, I’ve al­ways dreamed of writ­ing and trav­el­ing. Now I am liv­ing that dream. Not that long ago I was chug­ging along in my 1999 To y o t a C a m r y, af­fec­tion­ately called The Cam Cam, con­tem­plat­ing WhH zHaOous and aPELWLous words of my child­hood hero, Har­riet M. telsh, from the 1996 fiOP “Har­rLHW WhH Spy:” I want to see the whole world and write down ev­ery­thing.

I’ve been writ­ing down ev­ery­thing since my dad JaYH PH Py firsW Mour­naO when I was 8 years old. It was a sPaOO noWHEooN fiOOHd with at least 1MM blank pagHs. PLnN and pur­pOH flowHrs dec­o­rated the front and back cov­ers mak­ing it the per­fect pOacH Wo wrLWH JHPs OLNH: , OoYH 1 Sync and , can’W waLW for Nadira’s slum­ber party this week­end. veah!

But see­ing the world? That was some­thing I only just be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence.

A few years ago I em­barked on a jour­ney to Af-


I spent a few weeks

there the sum­mer be­fore my se­nior year of col­lege teach­ing English at a sec­ondary schooO Ln Tan­zanLa. ,W Ls some­thing I will never for­get. Not only did I have the op­por­tu­nity to help ed­u­cate young African women, but I got to ex­pe­ri­ence the land of my an­ces­try. Although my African roots may not spHcL­fi­caOOy sWHP IroP Tan­zanLa, EHLnJ on WhH conWLnHnW from which my great-great­great-grand­par­ents de­scended gave me im­mense pride.

My re­cent pil­grim­age to Is­rael fos­tered sim­i­lar feel­ings. My voy­age to this sa­cred land was pre­cious, be­cause it is the birth­place of my Chris­tian faith.

AW firsW, , wanWHd Wo YLsLW the Holy Land to get out of WhH 8nL­WHd SWaWHs and sHH some­thing new and ex­cit­ing. My church was host­ing a two-week tour and I knew I had to go. The Har­riet the Spy Ln­sLdH was scrHaPLnJ: vou need to see the whole world and write down ev­ery­thing.

Be­fore I knew it I was on an 11-hour flLJhW across WhH At­lantic Ocean to a re­gion of the world that was as un­charted to me as the Amer­i­cas were to Christo­pher Colum­bus.

Be­fore my jour­ney, peo­ple asked me why I was go­ing to Is­rael and usu­ally fol­lowed that ques­tion with an in­sen­si­tive don’t-get-blown -up re­mark.

Their com­ments did not dis­cour­age me, but strength­ened my de­sire to see this land of great spir­i­tual depth and po­lit­i­cal un­rest.

Is­rael is a beau­ti­ful coun­try and see­ing that beauty firsW­hand was sur­rHaO. ,n WhH BLEOH, DHuWHronoPy 8:7-8 dHscrLEHs ,sraHO as “a Oand oI brooks of water, of foun­tains and sprLnJs, flowLnJ ouW Ln the val­leys and hills, a land of wheat and bar­ley, of vines and fiJ WrHHs and poPHJranates, a land of olive trees and honHy.”

I saw the abun­dance of the land when I looked down from the peak of Mount Har­mon and saw olive, cit­rus, av­o­cado and date trees, and the rolling hills, moun­tains and desert plains.

SWandLnJ on WhH shorHs oI WhH SHa oI GaOLOHH Ln TLberius was ex­tra­or­di­nary. I watched the sun’s golden rays shim­mer in the water and the sky morph from a warm shade of honey into a bril­liant sap­phire. This scene brought to mind pas­sages in WhH GospHOs WhaW WaONHd oI Je­sus calm­ing the wind and the waves dur­ing a vi­o­lent storm, walking on the water and on whose shores he taught and fed thou­sands.

Jerusalem, the heart­beat of Is­rael, was full of life and ex­cite­ment. There were peo­ple of ev­ery eth­nic and re­li­gious back­ground puls­ing through the city. It is also a city that holds the per­fect mar­riage of mod­ern and an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture. How­ever, one of the most strik­ing places I saw was not as grand as some of the syn­a­gogues, churches and mosques there, but its beauty un­par­al­leled — the GardHn ToPE. To Pany the tomb may not seem like any­thing spe­cial — a small open­ing in the side of a moun­tain — but for me it is the place where Je­sus was laid and rose again af­ter his cru­ci­fix­ion and where re­demp­tion for all was ac­com­plished. As I stood be­fore the tomb, tears welling up in my eyes, I knew this was why God ErouJhW PH Wo , sraHO.

It’s hard to be­lieve that all this beauty is caught in the cross­fire of a na­tion at war. then I see im­ages of in­no­cent peo­ple be­ing pulled from the wreck­age of an ex­plo­sion or tanks charg­ing down the dusty roads I grieve for those liv­ing in this hell. How­ever, I am re­minded of a proPLsH God PadH Wo WhH peo­ple of Is­rael in Amos 9: 15, “, wLOO pOanW WhHP on their land, and they shall never againw be up­rooted out of the land I have givHn WhHP.”

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, Is­rael.

Jar­reau Free­man

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