Post Halloween Thoughts
Last night was Halloween and I went to the parade in the small town where I live. I went with my two favorite friends with whom I would go anywhere particularly now. They are the most positive people and I have no idea how they do it. Sometimes it annoys me because I am drawn to the dark side of life. I feel justified in this mainly because the world supports me by behaving in such an incredibly irresponsible manner. These days human life seems to have no value and like Bitcoin is tossed about and forgotten by the next newscast.
No one I know is watching the news anymore. Everyone with a brain is anxious.
My Dad, who was wise in his own way and also drawn to the dark side, once said to me that World War 3 would begin in Israel. Somehow, he saw in the future the fragility of their story and the tenacity with which they held on to their tiny piece of the world.
He took his family on many trips to different parts of the world, and we were met by large vans used to transport us to hotels, museums, restaurants and points of interest so that we would be aware of different cultures and also the history of conflict. Some of these things we kept, and some were relegated to the museum burial ground filled with headless torsos and overdressed people in clothes designed to prevent movement. Our favorite part of museums was always the gift shop.
We had fun along the way and were often caught misbehaving as kids do when forced to remain in vinyl seats all day listening to the drone of a tour guide lamenting the “lost civilization” of whatever country we were in.
We knew how privileged we were and gradually appreciated it and respected our father for giving us these experiences.
Israel, however, captured all of us. It was not the camel rides though they were fun particularly when the camel repeatedly bit our brother. It was not floating in the Red Sea, which seemed amazing as after years of repeated attempts to reach the highest Red Cross swim badges we were able to simply enter the sea and float without effort for hours. I wondered then why the bible claimed it had been parted as who would want to do such a thing.
My sense of awe appeared at the wailing wall. I cannot explain it, but I spent a long time with my hand on that wall. Built of limestone in the time of Herod the Great, it is known as the holiest place for Jews to pray outside the Temple Mount, the “holy of Holies” place one can pray.
It also has a part in Muslim history as history says “It is the place where the prophet Muhammed tied his winged steed, Al Buraq, on his Isra and Mi’raj to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise and constitutes the western border of Al-Haram Al -Sharif(“The Noble Sanctuary”)or the Al-Aqsa compound.”(Wikepedia 2023)
All I can say is that to a 16-year-old from Connecticut the place was awesome!
From Jerusalem we traveled to a Kibbutz where we stayed for several days. My dad was hoping to make us understand a life where sharing was simple and easy. I constantly worried about the fact that from infancy on children were raised communally, first in a nursery and then in a larger school system. I pestered the guide with questions about how long parents could spend with their kids each day and did they get to read to them at night. Could the kids sleep in their parents’ house? I was a slightly annoying child.
In any case my father had a meltdown in the Kibbutz the day before we left, and I was the obvious cause though not the real one. He gathered the entire family in our small bedroom and said we all had to pray for me as I was a difficult child. This behavior was completely unusual for him as he avoided church preferring to send all of us with a babysitter and if forced to attend for a baptism or funeral would chew gum and be restless throughout the service.
My sisters and I were bewildered and slightly amused, which covered up an uneasiness that we could not discuss or explain. It was also weird as my dad knew few prayers and those that he knew he got wrong that day. He was in some type of trance, and I think his years of anger and frustration had finally caught up with him in the Holyland.
I think now, looking back, he was overwhelmed by the sense of community he felt there, which was something he longed for and never felt. It humbled him. He had never felt this sense of protection and care the members of the Kibbutz felt for one another nor could he understand it. He solved these feelings of uncomfortableness by focusing instead on one of his playful kids transferring all his rage to her, unable to face his own.
I remember this scene vividly as any kid would as it was disturbing just as what is happening in Israel and Gaza now is deeply disturbing.
I understand it. I see how this small piece of hallowed ground could feel so fragile to those that live there. I understand the Palestinians who hold on for the same reasons to their territory. What has created painful and violent issues is the intervention of terrorist groups who help fund and plan violence and death.
I do not see a good ending here.
My Dad built a bomb shelter in our house in Connecticut prior to the Cuban missile crisis. We had a few orientations to its use and occupancy. Once I asked him about the lone handgun hooked high on the wall by the exit. His response was that was to prevent the neighbors from forcing their way into safety.
At that moment I decided at the age of 12 I would never enter that bomb shelter on family command and would head out to the Connecticut fields along with every other bomb shelter less family.
My Dad was trying to save his family as that was his job. Many feels like this. I often wonder if the global consciousness of the world thought about saving itself rather than destroying itself what might happen? A global mindset of peace, compassion and respect. What about community?
I have no answers, only a deep sense of despair and hopelessness. There is little any of us can do. I find myself praying again. I understand why things have become hopeless and violent, yet I don’t know which direction to take.
Most days I swim in a local pool and have conversations with my fellow swimmers about how lucky we are to be in this warm pool with only a few others yet often the conversations turn to more serious aspects of life, family and the world. It reminds me of being in the Red Sea: floating so easily with no effort or intent to stay afloat. For now, it’s the only place I feel comfortable and safe.