Faigie Heiman
Sixty plus years in Jerusalem

G-d’s Creations

The email in my inbox displayed 24 outstanding photos of G-d’s masterful creations, and the wisdom He employed to create the world; the oceans, rivers, mountains, heaven and earth filled with spectacular settings that had me fantasizing where would I still want to be a guest, or a hostess?

As the slideshow progressed I couldn’t help remembering the desire for travel that had played a leading role in our lives, specifically our livelihood. Travel management kept us updated on popular and exotic locations but also granted opportunities for personal travel. Lately, that pleasure too has been reduced significantly. Perhaps indefinitely, and I hope not permanently. Travel decline is somewhat age related. Walking, getting on and off a bus, up and down steps have turned increasingly difficult. I suppose we could travel, availing ourselves of aid that a wheelchair offers, but I refuse that option. Sound foolish? I suppose it does. If a wheelchair is designed to assist why not benefit from its service? Blame it on my disinclined nature to be pushy, like the possibility that I might have to push a wheelchair. That would ruin any travel pleasure gained from a trip abroad.

So … if travel is out, how about hosting? I can still handle that, and so can the man at my side, and we do host friends and family, children, grandchildren and greats. Perhaps not as grandly as we did formerly, not in any of those exotic country lodges or estates perched on the edge of lakes, their flower boxes overflowing with brightly colored geraniums and petunias in glorious gardens that slide across my screen, but we entertain; namely home-style.

“Mah rabu maasecha Hashem…how great/many are your works Hashem, all of them created with wisdom,” a verse from Psalms 104:24, the verse that best expressed my awesome frame of mind back then standing on the grounds of the resort at Lake Louise at sun set. The beauty of creation witnessed in the Canadian Rockies was like the hand of G-d opening the door to His inner sanctum, cautioning silence, as genuine beauty should not be spoiled by sound, not even by the click of a camera. Only blessing is permitted, whispered as an offering for the privilege to tour, along with the gift of vision.

I no longer serve or enjoy coffee on a leafy stone covered patio; the patio we once took pleasure in is not in our possession. We’ve moved; moved on to simpler, smaller, less colorful quarters, and I am grateful for the decision to have rendered change at the right time. Life is all about inclination to change. Nothing stays the same forever, not our minds or our bodies. Blessing too can be found in change, like the 15th of the month of Shvat in Israel, where we seek the budding almond tree that signifies seasonal change about to happen. Yet the pictures on my screen, the lakes and oceans, rocks and beaches, the homes and gardens, green vistas begging me to step on their grounds, sandy shores inviting me to run barefoot, mountains inspiring me to climb them, boats waiting for me to set their sails to the wind… all activities I will never participate in again. If I manage to walk up the hill on the street where we live I am breathlessly grateful.

Am I complaining? Sounding discontented? I admit to both, and I’m also disheartened, sitting like a splintered container, her contents slowly diminishing, not involved in anything important, staring at a silly screen, wishing for activity, to run again, to climb again, dreaming of a belt around my waist instead of loosely fitted garments that I’ve started wearing.

Why don’t I get up and move? Go someplace, even if running is fatiguing, and bending impossible. How dare I take comfort thinking…“At least I still have my memory, or, I can still walk, I can write!” Why don’t I write about daily injustice? About the chutzpa of an apologetic Jew, an American Ambassador unfairly criticizing Israel for not treating the Arab population as equals? Especially in these times, when an innocent mother of six is stabbed to death in her home by an Arab teen in front of her children, when a young woman six months pregnant is stabbed and wounded at work, by an Arab. When the Jerusalem light rail train serving Jews and Arabs, their communities and neighborhoods, is continually attacked and damaged by Arabs throwing stones.

A chorus advising me to exercise every day is not off key, and if I would shake myself out of complacency, out of chocolate eclairs and ice cream, I might find the courage to do some honest media analysis, holding them accountable for the half-truths and political bias they represent.

Wistful and pensive, I click away at the screen, like a child staring out the window at the icy street below, hot breath forming wet circles on the glass. Will I ever really change? Do I still have time for change, or will I remain passively content; one of G-d’s creations, adjusting to seniority, fading into anonymity without putting up a fight?

About the Author
Faigie Heiman is a frequent contributor of essays and short stories to Jewish newspapers and magazines, and author of a popular memoir, Girl For Sale. Born in Brooklyn, she made Aliya in 1960 with her husband and together raised a three-generation family in Jerusalem spanning six historical decades.