Monday, August 5, 2013

Clearing the Path

After learning that two CPTers were denied entry into Israel, I started to worry a lot about my own entry.  I worried A LOT.  In a reflection from The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo writes about the "many hours I have spent weaving storylines that never came true until, like weeds, they covered my heart."  This describes well the process of my brain for the last month.

I took whatever measures I could to help ensure my own passage, but I still worried.  My mind created a scene of a thicket of thistles and thorns I'd have to make my way through at passport control and though I felt temporary relief when I received blessings (at church, at work, at the CPT office, so many many blessings), the thicket remained. During my last week, as so many friends and family members told me they had been and would be praying for me, I'd say, "I feel very blessed and know I am enveloped in love.  Please pray for the immigration officer I meet, so that he or she may feel welcoming towards me when I come."

Even with these added prayers, I worried.  I thought of the disappointment I'd feel, the disappointment of my CPT teammates, the disappointment of anyone who'd given money to support my work. It was unbearable, even though I knew that any disappointment would not be directed at me but rather in empathy for me.  

My worry was for naught.  Or perhaps my preparation and all the prayers worked.  Maybe both are true.

While I wasn't worried about TSA in the States, I don't love going through the security check.  I had the most pleasant TSA experience of my life in Chicago.  The TSA agent asked where in Kentucky I'm from and when I told him Louisville, he proceeded to tell me about his interest in the paranormal and his recent visit to the Waverly Hills Sanatarium in Louisville. He also told me about his less exciting visit to a place in Wisconsin. I finally had to excuse myself from the conversation to get in line to have my bags checked.  "A good omen," I thought.  Then the thicket intruded again.

My 14 hours in the Netherlands included walking around Amsterdam with a friend.  We took a boat ride in the canals,  watched part of the Gay Pride parade as it traveled down the canals, and finally we happened upon a restaurant owned by a Palestinian.  He offered us mint tea, a sweet, and wonderful conversation.  "Another good omen."  And then the thistles crept back in.

In Schiphol airport, the usual extra security check for going to Israel was fast and easy, and still I felt the prickle of thorns. I slept fitfully on the plane.

When I arrived in Tel Aviv, I didn't have to wait in line.  I walked right up to the passport control booth and spent no more than two minutes standing in front of the young blonde girl (she looked too young for me to refer to her as a woman) sitting there.  She didn't ask the questions I'd dreaded; she didn't ask for the name of my friend in Tel Aviv (sometimes they call the person to verify information); she didn't have the tone of disdain I've heard before.  My mantra walking from the plane to her booth had been, "Love and welcome, clear my path."

My path feels clear, open for me to walk where I need to go. Perhaps it always has been, but for the obstacles I myself created.

When I got to my room early yesterday morning, I opened my curtains and window.  Two doves were cooing from my window sill.  I bent down to greet them and they flew off, but they've been back a number of times.  Certainly not a bad sign.  Maybe even the sweeper at the wall was there to give me yet another physical sign that my path is clear.

I pray tonight that I continue to release the thorns and thistles in my mind, that I instead nourish and accept nourishment from the love that so clearly guides and protects me.  I pray that I allow that same love to flow freely from me and help clear the path, whatever that path to goodness may look like, for others. 


  1. Yeah! So happy it was an easy beginning...hope the rest of it goes as well. Thinking of you!

    1. Thanks, Kim. I think it will go well, just perhaps not easily...