Forecast tomorrow: high of 38C in Ein Kerem; 42C in Jerusalem
I’m starting to get into the bad habit of Siesta. Bad, only because it makes it harder for me to sleep at night and wake up early for my morning prayers. I actually like waking up early here. The air is cooler, fresher, and the sun is tender on the skin. And on Shabbat, the traffic winding between the hills is noticeably absent. Still, there’s not much to do in the middle of the day when it’s so hot. Even in the shade the heat is unrelenting.
A typical day for me starts at 8AM with breakfast. The cook prepares Israeli-style breakfasts with boiled eggs, sliced peppers, tomatoes, olives, cheese, yogurt, fruit and bread. There’s usually one or two sisters that have breakfast in the dining room staff-only area. Guests usually prefer eating outside.
At 8:30 I begin my work. Depending on the day, I’m either cleaning the reception, library, chapel, or Father Marie’s house. If there’s a large group for breakfast, I help with the washing. And if the cleaning staff is in need, I help with the rooms. It’s not hard work, but the heat is starting to make it tiring. Usually I’m done by 11:30.
12:30 is lunch. If it’s a group lunch, I help serve, eat, then help wash up. For the past few weeks, we’ve had other Brothers helping in the convent a few days a week, and they join for lunch well. A couple other workers, Y who has been the gardener for the past 25 yrs and J who’s from South Africa, also join for lunch. We eat quickly so our cook, M, can finish the dishes and be out by 1:30.
Afternoons are quiet. Sometimes I have reception duty and I have the power to reject wedding parties who try to come to the garden for photos. Other times I have the rest of the day free. I could go into town, but the heat, traffic, and commute times are enough for me to just want to stay and relax. So I sleep, read, or write, or blog, or plan my next outing, or – my latest activity- bake. I’m still not used to this amount of “unproductive” time, nor so much time on my own. But it’s starting feel rather good – I’m worried about getting used to it 😛
Not sure why, but God has taken notice of my time alone. For the next three Saturdays I get to stay over night at Ecce Homo, then site-see with the new volunteers there! The plan for this Sunday, so I hear, is Hebron.
As for community life, every Friday evening there’s community prayer with the Sisters. Sometimes there is a Shabbat meal. Couple nights ago I watched Fiddler on the Roof with the Sisters. It’s a difference experience watching that here, especially after visiting Yad Vashem (The Holocaust History Museum). I have not been able to write about Yad Vashem yet; I plan to visit a few more times before I leave. The stories that are told there are simply too raw to absorb in one afternoon.
And so with this new rhythm, I’m already into my second month here in Israel. The days are passing along, and I’m sure that it will feel all too quickly by summer’s end.