Life has a funny way of teaching you its lessons.
Up to just a few weeks ago I felt entirely contented on this kibbutz. After struggling a little in a one room studio since February, my little boy and our beautiful cat moved in together with my fiancé into a house. Our house is in the middle of an egalitarian, forward thinking community, which embraces its Arab neighbours, and where gluten free and/or vegan brownies are a part of each week’s Kiddush, (along with tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the sweetest watermelon imaginable) and where, if you put out a plea for help on the WhatsApp group (my little boy has left all his cars in England; does anyone have a spare cake tin?) you will be inundated with messages offering help and advice or simply just find bags of cars and/or cake tins outside your front door.
Add to that: running in the forests, the hills, being a part of all the flowers, the horses/donkeys/dogs/cats/crickets/butterflies, the very essence of life on a kibbutz, and I could breathe in deeply every day: life is good.
And yet, one day when I was taking my little boy to Gan, our attention was caught by this little brown velvety dog, with eyes pleading for cuddles. She accompanied us as I dropped my boy off, and then proceeded to run all the way home with me, stopping on the way at a friend’s house. We checked whether she belonged to anyone on the Kibbutz. She did not. And whether they might like to have her – their mother had recently lost her dog. They did not. So I tied a little piece of rope around her collar and made sure I got her to our house.
“Can we keep her?” was my question to my then boyfriend. He took one long at her face, and one look at mine, and it was a done deal. In fact I was so happy, that was the day he asked me to marry him. But that’s another story.
That afternoon, we took her to the Vet. If she’d had a chip in her, we’d have had to return her to her owners. By some miracle, she did not – in fact the Vet thinks she was abandoned shortly after she gave birth to her puppies, at the very young age of one year and two months. So that was it. The Vet said she was our dog. We named her Lucy.
It’s been three weeks since then, and I can’t imagine our family without her. She runs with me every morning, watching the perfect pink sun as it rises above the hills. She comes to each one of us when we call her, or when she feels like it, for a million cuddles. She loves a walk at any time of day and night, and doesn’t mind the heat of the sun, but she’ll also happily laze around for hours and sleep on everyone’s bed, in turn. She plays with my little boy so beautifully, though he can be rough and even thoughtless sometimes; she never goes for him but teaches me her patience, instead.
And now, as of yesterday evening, I have suddenly and unexpectedly been plunged into isolation. This instead of the week I have been looking forward to for months – starting my new job as a teacher in Israel. Lucy is sleeping with me in my chosen room of seclusion – the study. She can see in my face, feel in my heart, how I am so sad; I do not want to be here, unable to cuddle my little boy, unable to leave the house, unable to spend the quality time with my family who I so love, quality time in the countryside that I am so in love with. It is as if Lucy knows these things, and she sits with me, her chin on my knee, and her soft, beautiful eyes gazing into mine, and she is telling me: This too shall pass.
And the strangest thing? I thought I was happy before Lucy came into our lives. I thought I had everything I wanted.
And then I can’t help but compare that thought to my life in England, before I moved here. I had a lovely job. I had, and still have, wonderful friends there. We lived in the beautiful countryside and were always outside (weather permitting, of course, so maybe just a few times a week!). My family lived not too far away and my little boy liked his nursery. Things were fine. Things were good. I felt happy, settled.
I think that’s why I decided to move. Not because I was unhappy, but because I had found my inner peace and so I knew it was the right time for a new adventure, and to come home.
Is it possible there are many Jewish people out there in the same situation, blindly carrying on their lives in the diaspora, happy, settled, but without the understanding of how good, how wonderful, life could be in their homeland of vegan milk, date honey and dogs like Lucy?
Did Lucy follow me home a few weeks ago because she too wanted a new adventure, and she understood she was coming into a happy family? Did she know she would make our family even happier? Or am I reading too much into it, and she just wanted eternal cuddles and treats and as much fuss as is humanly possible…
There seems to be a great life lesson here. I’m just unsure quite how to express it, but I know if Lucy could talk, she would tell you exactly what I’m trying to say.