Thursday, November 22

What We Learn from the Israelis | Living in Peace in the Heart of Chaos

It was getting dark and we were in the mysterious city of Jerusalem. 

We only had a day to spend there but already our hearts were moved and my head was spinning from what we had experienced earlier that day-- the Western Wall, the delicious markets, countless cultures colliding in less than 1 sq kilometer. I had no idea just where on the map we were headed, but after we parked and began walking, we took a turn onto a well-lit back street, hopped up a wooden staircase and passed a few women in mid-20s chatting on a porch. We filed into that small cafe. It was inviting, lit by the warm glow of orange lights.

I was in paradise, immediately surrounded by books from floor to ceiling. I barely knew enough Hebrew to read the shelf in front of me. Ironically, it read "books in English" and of the remaining titles, most looked well-read. So much knowledge paired with a warm brew of tea and I was already feeling close to home.

Two tables tight and fresh hot food piled high, we ate until we could eat no more, chatted on the state of Israeli affairs and enjoyed each other's company. Then the owner himself was introduced, I believe David was his name, and I couldn't help but like him, if for no other reason than for creating this safe haven of literature and espresso combined. He had lived in the states and experienced coffee shops and book stores, but hadn't seen anything here in Israel of the sort-- so he created it! Twenty years later, twenty long years and hardships later, and he was still the cafe owner, still flourishing, still serving warm brews and enriching the world with this safe-haven.

"I want to share a story with you" he began. I was eager to listen.
"We are only a few streets down from Ben Gurion. Explosions were going off there a few years ago, just a few blocks away from here. It's already not easy making a living in this economy but as soon as a bomb goes off, everyone goes into hiding and no one's sitting on the streets. It was chaos everywhere and still, in the middle of this cafe, there was a young man and woman enjoying their dinner. I couldn't understand how they could still be here, enjoying their dinner. They finished eating, obviously very into each other, then asked what was on the dessert menu. I told them about the cheesecake and they were going back and forth, so intent on which cheesecake was kosher and what cheese was used.... and was that kosher too? Was I sure?"

"How could they be so interested in what was kosher when bombs were going off? How could they still be so into each other in this moment? Then it occurred to me, that this was an orthodox couple and they were on one of only a few dates they would be able to go on before they had to decide if they were getting married. They had decided that in that moment, nothing else mattered, only the two of them and these moments shared..."

I was wiping away the tears. 
In the comfort of our warm beds and far from the realities of war here in the States, unless we have served in the Military we have no concept of what it means to fight for our lives. While much of Israel was a safe country and they are so well protected, they are in a war. This is one of many stories I have heard since, of people continuing to go about their daily lives, no matter the circumstances  We learn from them that we must choose to live, "choose enjoyment and not sorrow". As we sit around our table today with plates & hearts full, surrounded by those we love, we learn an invaluable lesson from these Israelis:

Gratitude solves all problems.

This day, of all days, may we make the decision to be grateful for every little thing that is ours, including the gift of life. We have so much, right in front of our eyes. 

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.
To my Israeli friends half way across the globe, thank you for being the Light that you are to the world. We continue to pray for peace and your protection. (And I wish a very happy birthday to Dana. :)   love, carli

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