Feb 11, 2013 06:04PM
There are events in our life which defy all rhyme or reason and end up leaving an indelible mark on us forever. This is one of those times...
I was doing a live broadcast from the lobby of the Huntington Bank building during Art Prize, one of the world’s biggest art competitions held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During my broadcast a woman brought a handsome, Israeli artist by the name of Ofer MizraChi to my booth. “You must talk to him,” she says, “Ofer has a wonderful story to share.”
We chatted about his art work, his inspiration for The Near Jerusalem Project, and life in Israel. I confessed that visiting Israel had always been a dream for me, but the dream died many years ago. Suddenly, Ofer says to me, “Come, come to Israel. I will show you the River Jordan the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee. We’ll travel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and my hometown of Modi’in.”
Chuckling to myself and outwardly laughing it off, we hurriedly exchanged goodbyes. As he began to walk away he turned back and shares, “Kim, there is something different about you, something special. I would like to get to know you better, is that possible?” Sure, sure, I said, not really knowing if I meant it or not. Under different circumstances Ofer’s invitation would have sounded like a “pick-up” line, but it didn’t sound or feel that way to me at all. It felt sincere. We exchanged numbers and later that day he invited me to a Yom Kippur dinner his host family was preparing for him. It was a wonderful evening filled with great conversation, food, and fun. It was a long time since I had laughed that much and really enjoyed myself.
Kim and Ofer
My fiancé died in 2004, and that pretty much did me in. A part of me died on that day too. But the invitation from Ofer to be his guest and visit Israel just kept bouncing around in my head, giving me no peace. But realistically, how could I do this? I don’t own a passport. I have animals to take care of and a job. Can I even get the money together for a flight? And, why am I thinking such crazy thoughts? Plus, I hadn’t been on an actual vacation for over 20 years. There really wasn’t any desire for one. But this was different; it was my Israel Calling moment. But, just to be sure, I asked Ofer if he was just being nice when he made me the offer to visit him in Israel, or did he really mean it? “Yes, yes it would warm my heart if you visited me in Israel,” he says.
So I applied for my passport, started to save some money, put in for my vacation, while all the time my friends thought I had lost my mind. My parents, surprisingly, were on board with my decision. I did learn later that some bets were placed on whether I would actually board the plane or not.
Kim in the Dead SeaTwo months later, December 14th, 2011, I landed in Tel Aviv, Israel and Ofer was waiting for me at the airport. It was surreal. I was finally standing on the soil of Israel, 6,000 miles and a 12 hour flight from home. It was one of the most wondrous things I have ever experienced. From the airport, off we went to Jerusalem, then the next day it was the Dead Sea where I floated weightlessly and later rode a camel. Then alone, I took the bus to the Modi’in Mall and walked home at 9 o’clock at night, feeling nothing but peaceful and safe. My diet consisted of nothing but Israeli/Yemen food that Ofer’s mom prepared with love each day. I experienced Christmas and Hanukkah in Jerusalem, and on December 25th I walked the streets and visited the places that I read about in the Old Testament of the Bible. To this day, those two weeks and that experience are one that will be remembered with fondness and love for the rest of my life.
The lesson here? Sometimes you really do need to step out of your comfort zone. It will feel scary, and there will be anxiety, and people who tell you that you can’t. Maybe it’s not Israel for you, maybe its closer, it’s trying something new, going somewhere different, taking a calculated risk? Challenge yourself and grow, so what is your Israel Calling moment?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kim Carson is an author and television/radio/internet personality. You can keep up with all of her adventures at www.FaithHopeAndLoveSongs.com and at facebook.com/KimCarsonNOW.