Do you believe in God?
Don’t answer that question.
Life here is complicated enough.
My own answer is complicated, too, but I know this:
I believe in God Moments.
These little — and sometimes not-so-little — indications that there are powers greater than ours; an understanding of this world and this existence that we may never know.
But we may glimpse.
Today I was in Haifa.
I had to take a driving test.
Despite being a driver for more than 20 years, new immigrants have to go through quite a process to procure an Israeli driver’s license.
Today was — hopefully — the final step.
I live in the Galilee and I drive to work every day. I’m already comfortable driving in this country despite the notorious crazy drivers. But preparing to drive through the windy, narrow, hilly streets of Haifa took me back years ago to the weeks before my first driver’s test in New Jersey when I was 17. The need to memorize signs, and rules that weren’t necessarily intuitive.
I was nervous. I wanted to pass this test. And be finished with the process already.
Before I left the house in the morning, I grabbed a CD — singing in the car on my way to an appointment I’m anxious about often minimizes my anxiety.
I was looking for Michelle Shocked or Pink or the soundtrack to Clueless: a girly pop album I could rock out to. But the CD cabinet was a mess, and I finally quickly grabbed a David Broza CD — one I hadn’t listened to since we made Aliyah more than two years ago. I wanted to see how much my Hebrew had improved since the last time I had heard this album.
I fast-forwarded to my favorite track.
I sang along and remembered when I first learned the words to this song.
It was 10 years ago and I was pregnant with my first son. We were living in Tucson, Arizona and I got this CD, “Painted Postcard,” for free while working as assistant editor of a Jewish newspaper. Broza was coming to town for a concert sponsored by the young Jewish leadership group, and I was to interview him for the paper in advance of his show.
Listening to the song took me back — to the interview over the phone with Broza (it was my first celebrity interview!), to the night my husband drove to Phoenix to pick Broza up from the airport and drive him to Tucson (that’s a story in and of itself), and to the night of the show … and I remembered the blue GAP maternity dress; the one with spaghetti straps my husband bought me as a surprise. I felt pretty in that dress despite my enormous belly.
With these memories, I smiled and I knew the test would be ok.
Whether or not I passed.
* * *
I got in the driver’s seat of the test vehicle and slowly pulled out from the parking spot when the instructor indicated. The test started off okay. I’m by nature a careful driver, but there’s always the risk in these situations of being too careful, too slow.
Driving in the small neighborhood streets proved to be relatively uneventful, but when I pulled out onto the intersection of Sderot HaHagana and Sderot Rothschild, I made my first mistake.
I just about ran a red light.
To be fair to me — because I deserve fairness– it was a complicated intersection with a one way street meeting a two-way bus lane. To be fair to the instructor — he was kind. He told me what to do and where to stop.
But after this moment, I was shaken.
I pulled myself together, but my mood had clearly shifted. The Beach Boys started playing on the radio. I instructed myself to hum along. I knew it would likely soothe my nerves.
We slowly climbed the hills of Haifa, up Derech Stella Maris…and just before we reached the famed tourist spot where visitors can take a cable car down to the Haifa beach, the song on the radio changed.
And I heard a familiar guitar riff.
It was David Broza.
I laughed out loud. And smiled.
As I heard the words … Baanu l’caan, mitachat lashamayim, shnaiyim, k’moh zoog aynayim… We have come here. Under the sky. Two of us, like a pair of eyes.
I knew, once again, that everything would be okay.
Some would call this coincidence.
I call it a God Moment.
Because in these moments, I know instantly and deep inside me that there are powers greater than mine. And there is kindness in the world that can’t be seen. And love from above that shines greater than the stars...as we mere humans wander about beneath.