Sunday, February 22, 2009

Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage by Cheryl Dickow, Part Three

It was at times like this that Beth drove herself crazy. She watched a young mother struggle with a two year old who clearly wanted the cartoon doll in a gift shop. The mother had made the grave mistake of running into the gift shop to buy a pack of gum and a magazine and walked out with nothing more than a screaming toddler, arms outstretched, as if the doll could save him from some terrible fate that awaited. Beth thought of the countless times she had attempted some excursion with her own children, each endeavor meeting with defeat.

As Beth watched the mother’s control slowly slip away, Beth wondered if she was supposed to go help this young mother. Was this woman, at the edge of her patience, meant to be someone whom Beth should know? These were the things Beth grappled with now. Almost too anxious to hear God’s call, she often wondered if she had become deaf to it. Sitting in her seat, waiting to be called for boarding, Beth decided this woman wasn’t supposed to be in Beth’s universe. At least not in the physical sense. She decided to quietly say a prayer for the return of the young mother’s patience.
As soon as Beth finished her short but heartfelt prayer, her row was called. Securing her tote bag under her left arm, and holding her boarding pass in her right hand, she took her place in line. She smiled at everyone who looked her way, wanting to strike up a conversation with them all. Were they as excited as she was to be traveling to the Holy Land? She could feel her stomach doing flip-flops at the prospect of standing on the ground that her Lord and Savior stood upon. Were His words still echoing in the foothills of Mount Sinai? Would she feel Judge Deborah’s presence at Mount Tabor? Would she break down during her own walk on the Via Dolorosa?

Her questions filled her mind as she inched her way closer to the airplane that would be arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv in ten hours. For one fleeting moment she wished that Luke were with her. Would he add to her excitement and anticipation or would he detract from it? It was something she hadn’t been willing to risk as she weighed the pros and cons of what she felt she needed during the planning portion of this trip.

Part of her thought they needed time together. They could have made arrangements for the two boys to stay with friends and family. But the other part of her, and as it turned out, the larger portion, knew she simply needed time to herself. And it needed to be time that had great meaning for her. Her ache for what life hadn’t yet held was becoming almost unbearable at times. Her need to grasp at the tailwinds of time began in earnest the day her son was accepted to college. She watched him read his congratulatory letter and simultaneously saw him as a toddler putting his first puzzle together. Where had the time gone? A searing pain ran through her like a hot knife through butter, melting everything it touched. She couldn’t bear to think of Sophia leaving in another year. Two of her children on their own!

Get the whole story at Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage

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