Israel

Serendipitous Day in Haifa

Sculpture of woman holding dove by Ursala Malbin, Peace Garden, HaifaAfter visiting the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, which closed at noon, I had no itinerary. I started walking down the hill.

“Lady, lady!” A stranger was calling me from a car.

“Yes?” I answered.

“Abraham said you needed a tour guide.” Abraham was the Kenyan security guard at Baha’i Gardens I’d been speaking with about his faith.

“Actually, I do. What do you suggest?”

Chaim gets out a map and points out the possibilities. We decide on an itinerary and a price. I enter the cab, grateful for Abraham’s initiative, and the bonus of seeing the historic town of Akko today. It’s much more efficient to travel with a local guide and dedicated transport.

Our first stop was aptly named the Peace Garden. A Jewish sculptor from Germany, Ursula Malbin, donated the sculptures years ago. I especially like the one of a woman holding a dove – a beautiful expression of peace.

Divine Appointments

Baha'i Gardens and HaifaOn my second day in Israel, I sought my own peace. My plan was to meditate at Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, renowned for its beauty. A Baha’i friend described to me years ago in Toronto; today I can finally see it.

With ample time, I adventurously decide to travel by bus and train. While I feel illiterate in this land of signs that I can’t even decipher the letters of, friendly Israelis explain that I need bus #5, not 5A. As the minutes — and 3 more 5A buses go by — I get anxious about time.

At the train station, trusting that hand signs and “Haifa” sufficed to buy me a return ticket that I can’t read, I realise that I just missed the train. My anxiety increases. I counteract it by thanking God for missing the train, praying that God will redeem the time with divine appointments.

The youngest soldier I’ve ever seen drops his pack in front of me. Unused to seeing soldiers, especially ones who look like teenagers, I try not to be obvious in my stare.

“Hello,” I say, hoping this is a divine appointment. I would love to talk to an Israeli soldier.

“What’s your thing?” Peace.

Jaffa port, IsraelOn my friend’s recommendation, on my first evening in Tel Aviv, I walked through Jaffa port. Alighting at the clock tower, the street bustled with open air restaurants, kiosks, groups of teenagers, wandering couples. The sight and sound of the sea attracted my eye. I went to investigate, and capture the light with my camera.

Meandering around the coastline, I came to a harbour where boats were moored and men were fishing. When tiny lights on their lines submerged, they knew they'd caught a fish.

“Do you like what you see?,” a stranger asked, following the eye of my lens to a pile of nets.

“Yes,” I said, appreciating the colours and contours of net and boat.

“What’s your thing?,” he continued.

“Peace,” I replied.

Maybe humour is spiritual dancing

I hoped I'd sleep for 24 hours after my 24 hour overnight flight, but I awoke suddenly and finally after 8 hours. I opened the curtains to my first view of Tel Aviv in daylight. The bright sun reflected brilliantly off the white buildings. I craned my neck to peek west from my north-facing window and saw the Mediterranean sea.

Tel Aviv view from hotel Tel Aviv view from hotel

On my way to Israel

At 11 PM I board the first plane and settle into my seat. I'm on my way to Israel.

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