A Look Back to Poetic Times

Sometime in my past, I was in the desert, in Israel. Whether I was traveling with Ramah Seminar or Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim I don’t remember; but here in a box of old materials I’ve discovered two pages I wrote that night. No date, but some nice thoughts. I know they were written sometime between 2003 and 2004. Here there are:

The Desert. The Negev Desert. Like something out of a dream. In depictions of places like this, only dreary colors are portrayed. I’ve never really been in a desert before, but wow. I’m sitting on the side of a mountain, a light tan in the sunlight and a grey brown in the shade. I only use images of these colors as such because there is no other word to describe them. The mountain on which I’m sitting slopes downwards, in a slow downcline of shelves of rocks. At the top they are more flat, more sturdy. Towards the bottom they are more ground, fine. More pebbles. Directly across from me, in a quick but drastic transition is a stand dune. The sand here has the fineness of powder, the consistency of water. There must be a mountain under all that sand, because I can see rocks underneath. At the top and bottom, there are plants growing. Yeah, plants, who would have thought? Depictions – pictures, paintings, photos – they all show the desert with nothing but cactus. None here.

I pick up rocks to see see what’s underneath – the minute I touch it, the rock crumbles to sand underneath my fingers. That rock may have been sitting there for thousands of years, and I crumbled the sand beneath it. Looking out as far as I can see, al I can see is mountains and sand and rocks and plants. The sky is so clear. There are a few clouds on the horizon to my sides, but none in the overhead. No two things are the same hue. There is not a grain of sand identical to another. The wind constantly blowing. I can hear it in my ears the whole time. It sounds like thunder, and is hard enough even to shake me, but at the same time it’s soothing. No wonder people live here. Now I can think only of one thing, one quote:

I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help is from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.

However, as much as the desert is a remarkable place, I have to admit that it would be hard for me to stay here. As the sun goes down, it ets colder and colder, not only physically but emotionally. This place may be scary in a little while, with animals and coldness and lack of water and food. The sun is completely behind the mountain now, with only the lightest trail of yellow left behind. It’s beautiful.


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