Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Those in Exile

There are lots of people, I suppose, who are living one way in their heads while their bodies are in another place altogether. Those with serious a physical illness or disability, for example, that limits the body but doesn’t impact the mind. Prisoners. Transsexuals in women’s bodies who know, without a doubt, that they are men. Daydreamers.

And those who know they are living in exile.

The underlying commonality is the discordance - the sense that you are partially in one place and partially in another. That’s what it’s like for those of us who long to live in Israel but who, for whatever reason, are not yet able to.

I recognize the incongruity in others who are still living in America in fact, but are already living in Israel in their heads, because it echoes my own internal pull.

A friend recently writes a blog entry that ends, “May you all be blessed to build your Sukkah in Israel.” and it makes me cry. A different friend who made aliyah this past summer called to tell me that it rained in Israel for the first time this year and there is such joy in her voice that I cry. A third friend is making aliyah right after Sukkot, Gd-willing, and there was a party for her and many of her musical friends earlier this week. A mutual friend is singing a song she wrote with lyrics urging Rochel Imeinu to stop crying because her children are coming home, and I am crying because it really, really does seem to be true.

I am so moved so many times in an average week, it has become part of my life. The center of my emotional life is shifting from here to there. As time goes by, it seems that I have more friends in Israel than I do here. In some cases, it’s because the people I feel closest to are those who are in the process of making aliyah. But it’s also because of the number of friends I have lost on this journey.

Admittedly, this journey takes up a lot of space on my hard drive. Old friends are not always able to accommodate the changes in me. Understandable. People who make big changes in their lives, in their outlooks, in their priorities, can’t always hold on to old relationships.

Those of us who feel the exile deeply, inevitably come to understand that.

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