When I was 19, I spent five weeks in a pre-army program in Kiryat Anavim, nestled in the hills just west of Jerusalem. The lyrics to a famous Israeli song hung at the entrance to our dorms: Suddenly a man wakes up in the morning and feels he is a nation and starts to walk. And to all he passes, he calls out hello.
Or is it peace?
Why did the rains come early this year? This is the thought that comes to mind as I huddle behind a bench, a rocket flying overhead. My foot entrenched in mud, my husband and mom on either side of me, their hands covering my head just like when my parents bless my brother and me on a Friday night.
I wondered to myself if the rockets had pierced the clouds. It doesn’t work that way, I was duly informed. Lots of things aren’t working the way they usually do, I mused. Families should be at home together, yet for some strange reason, they are torn apart. Hospitals should house the sick, yet for some strange reason, some seem to have forgotten about primum non nocere. Childishly, I asked God,
Do YOU know why it’s raining? Thinking I might get a reply, I waited. But I have no way to confirm or deny. Besides, lots of things flow like rain. Tears. Rockets. Blood. Just watch the news.
The positive side of my brain pipes up. Conversations! Rivers! Electricity! Sometimes even kindness. That’s something I can confirm.
Do you know how? Because I’ve seen it in abundance. Weddings organised at the eleventh hour. The bride walking down a white carpet, surrounded by a sea of army green. A scream for justice. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, offering himself up to rescue the innocent. Last minute messages sent, I love you. See you on the other side.
A siren sounds and we’re far from home; except when your country is a nation, you never really are. Over here, a voice calls. This way. A stranger points towards an open door. But she’s not really a stranger, she never was. I just didn’t know her yet. We gather around. Do you live in this building? She asks. No, I reply.
Neither did she, it turns out. Or anyone else for that matter. But when you’re a nation, what’s mine is yours. A man wakes up in the morning and feels he is a nation. These words remind me, maybe us (?) that 1+1>2; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.