If you've read Embrace the Grace for very long, you know that one of my favorite descriptive words in the English language is "resplendent." It just rolls off the tongue with such elegance and form.
And our wonderful adventure in the land of Milk and Honey was nothing short of RESPLENDENT!
I've wrestled for a solid week with what my opening post should be about. The sights? The sounds? The foods? The people? The atmosphere?
Should I tell of how I cried - in the Tel Aviv Airport on arrival?!
Would you prefer to hear about our wildly diverse group of touring pilgrims/historians/vacationers?
Could I adequately describe to you the sense of holiness at key locations?
These all beg rehearsing. But to get me back on track, I've opted for an "Israel Story" that actually took place just after our return home.
Frank and I know that jet-lag is no joking matter. Especially since we needed to be on our game by Monday for sure. So when Cody picked us up in Orlando Saturday morning, we jumped right into the U.S. time. A real challenge but necessary.
(To understand what that meant, try adding seven hours to whatever time it happens to be as you read this now. I'm writing at 12:30 PM - which means it's currently 7:30 PM in Israel. The clock may say one thing, but your exhausted body says something entirely different. Now add to this little equation the fact that we only slept about three hours on the flight home. You get it, right?)
In order to stay awake until we just could not hold our eyes open any longer, we did something a little nuts. We went to a backyard barbecue with friends!
The laughter and noise kept us coherent if not fully alert.
After we'd been there about thirty minutes, Joy arrived with Spencer and Abby. We got off in a quiet corner for that reunion. No better feeling than little arms that squeeze sincerely.
They came to sit with us as we finished our delectable pork and beef. ("Sitting with us" meant one in the chair with me, the other on my lap. And no, I didn't mind at all.)
As everyone buzzed in conversation around us, Spencer asked me a question but I couldn't really hear what he had said. I leaned in closer and said, "What did you ask, Sweetie?"
Big blue eyes penetrated mine as sincerity oozed from his precious red lips. He repeated his question a little more loudly, "Noni, did you and Poppa get to say, 'Hosanna! Hosanna!' for Jesus while you were in Iz-ah-rel?"
Palm Sunday had just been two weeks earlier. He drank in the re-enactment of Christ's triumphal entry to Jerusalem. He and the other toddlers waved palm branches enthusiastically while calling out "Hosanna! Hosanna!" The teacher added, "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!"
His one innocent statement became the frosting on the cake for me. A four-year old totally understood that Noni and Poppa had visited the very place where Jesus walked. And that we didn't go as tourists - we went as modern pilgrims to worship our Living Lord.
Tears stung my eyes as I pulled him close and said, "Yes, buddy! We said 'Hosanna! Hosanna!' for Jesus and 'Hallelujah! Hallelujah!' too."
How thankful I am to have viewed an empty tomb in Jerusalem. But my joy overflows in knowing that my grandson understands that Christ rising from the dead brings life to his little world as well!