Years from now, I wonder how much I’ll remember of my time here in the Holy Land. Ten years ago I spent three months in Colorado Springs, and had a remarkable time. But I’ve forgotten many of the details. Only moments, impressions of moments, remain.
Not only the memories have faded, but so have the relationships. Friendships formed years ago have dissolved by time, distance, and shifts in life stages. Only in the last few years have I learned to acknowledge these loses and mourn them, but to also to look ahead with anticipation.
I have so many stories of this place, I’m afraid that I’ll forget them. Like the time we mistakenly got into a taxi without determining the price first. Or how we ignored the “do not swim” signs and dunked ourselves in a waterfall.
Then there are the things that I first found so strange but later became routine. Like throwing toilet paper into the waste-bucket instead of flushing it. Or going through the security checks at shopping malls and bus centers. Or bus drivers who start to drive without closing the door.
Then there are the things that I feel, should I stay longer, I would never get used to. Like concrete walls separating communities and checkpoints that make you feel like penned pigs. Or the constant “Ni-Hau!” or “China, where are you going?” Next time I’m wearing a T-Shirt that says Made in Canada.
I’m not sure if I’ll miss Jerusalem, but I will miss the garden and the people. Notre Dame de Sion still feels like a bit of paradise in the midst of chaos, and I hope and pray that this convent will continue to thrive for generations to come. I’ll miss the workers who have shared with me a bit of their lives and their strength to live despite the tremendous obstacles they face. I’ll miss my Catholic Sisters and Brothers who have taught me much about community and the meaning of service. I’ll also miss my traveling companions, especially M & N, who made this experience all the more meaningful and enjoyable.
While gazing at those Judean Hills today, my heart was overflowing in thankfulness to God. He has been so good and so kind to me; for bringing me here, for sustaining me, and for teaching me things old and new. In the days ahead, I will be pondering about all that I’ve seen, learned and discovered.
In the past few days I’ve been saying goodbye – but it’s been tempered by my eagerness to go home. It is time… and I can leave without feeling like I’ve left something behind, but rather that I bring it back with me.