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Israel day eight: wandering the desert and a night under the stars

January 20, 2013

Negev DesertOn Monday, I woke up and looked out the window to find that we were in the middle of a desert. I walked out back and took pictures of the sun rising over the Negev Desert and was in awe of a type of landscape I had never seen before. When most people think of Israel, this is probably what they think of, but we hadn’t been anywhere near a desert after a week in the country – until now.

After a trip to the grave of Ben Gurion, the man who desired to develop this desert, we went into the heart of a canyon to a place called Ein Ovdat, where we wandered around until we reached a waterfall. It was pretty surreal to be in this desert and to be surrounded by nature that had witnessed so much in its history.

Desert rocksAs I walked along, I picked up many rocks – rocks that had experienced a journey of change and evolution through their existence, just as I had through mine. The canyon, rocks, desert and I are all different now than we were a year ago. After getting back on the bus, I realized that the first and last rocks I found fit together like pieces of a puzzle and began thinking about the puzzle that is my life. This trip to Israel is a piece of that puzzle and has helped make me a more complete person. The rocks and I each have our own histories, and now, our puzzles intertwine and are connected. This land and this experience have impacted my life and added new pieces to my puzzle, and I was able to take a piece of it home with me, literally, by taking home that first rock.

After a trip to the Salad Trail, where we picked our own carrots and tomatoes and tasted the best oranges and strawberries I had ever had, we traveled to the town of Sderot, which is one mile north of the Gaza Strip.

In Sderot, children know to run to bomb shelters within 15 seconds of hearing a code red. There are bomb shelters in the shape of caterpillars on playgrounds. Children there believe rocket and missile attacks are normal everywhere in the world. They do not wish to live anywhere but Sderot because they know there are bomb shelters that will protect them in Sderot. The people who live in this town are strong; they remain, even when their world shatters before their eyes.

Following that enlightening experience, we drove to the Bedouin tent, where we would spend the night. The Bedouins live a very different type of lifestyle, but our experience included sleeping in a tent, all 40 of us together, in sleeping bags and with a slight walk to the bathroom. It was an unusual but interesting experience that I’m glad I had the opportunity to do.

The best part of the Bedouin tent was when our group walked away from the lights and into the middle of nowhere, where we could see the horizon and more stars than I had ever seen. It was peaceful and amazing to witness this sight on the other side of the world. We yelled to release stress, and I realized that the daily worries of life are trivial and mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. It changed how I want to live my life. We remained silent, only listening to the sounds of earth and viewing the mass expanse of it. We are such a small speck in time and space, yet we must remember that our presence on earth matters and we must do something with it.

As an end to the silence, Einat began playing “Circle of Life” from The Lion King on an iPod, and we all sang along. The feeling I felt when we did that was indescribable, and that was followed by all of us joining in for the Rock Chalk chant. Performing the Rock Chalk chant on the other side of the world was awesome and brought us closer together.

Bedouin TentThis day had to be one of my favorite days of the trip. We began in the desert, which was epic in itself. We ended the day in a Bedouin tent and spent the night in the great outdoors. We screamed to get rid of our worries and contemplated our purpose on earth.

It truly is a miracle that I went on this trip to Israel. The days of rain, the frustration, the itinerary changes, the nerves were all worth it because they led me to an experience that will influence how I live my life.

Disclaimer: My birthright trip to Israel was absolutely incredible, beyond words. However, on this blog, I am trying to use words to describe how absolutely incredible it was. I explain what we did each day and attempt to describe the indescribable: how I felt as I traveled around the Holy Land of Israel. It’s difficult to describe some things because it was a very personal experience, but I’ll do my best. In addition, some things are just too deep or personal to comment on in a blog, but if you would like to discuss or go deeper on anything, feel free to contact me. I would love to talk about it.

From → Israel

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