We didn’t grow up here.
As late comers to the Land of Israel, it sometimes feels like there’s a barrier between us and true understanding of our country. Yes, after a few years of living here, most of us feel that we’re coming home when returning to Israel after a journey. And slowly, our feelings about Israel become warm and comforting instead of exciting and foreign.
We learn to work the system. We begin to understand its society. Our daily life forces us to do that.
But do we really know Israel? Do we know it like the face of a loved one- every line and every crevice? Do we long for its natural comforts?
It used to be that when I thought of the comforts of nature, I thought of swampland, magnolias, and towering oak trees. I thought of cicadas at night and flower petals falling. And warm weather rain showers. Where I came from, this was the tapestry of nature.
But exploring our country outdoors, week after week, has changed my definition of inner peace.
Now, I dream of climbing desert mountains under a crisp blue sky. I want to escape to a forest floor in the Jerusalem hills, pine needle scent thick in the air.
In the wintertime, I think about rubbing my hands in thick moss in the Carmel mountains. Or dancing through a field of anemone flowers.
When the weather warms up in the spring, I wish for an escape to rain swollen waterfalls, before the crowds come. I dream about smooth rocks and fish swimming near my toes.
I long for Israel.
Being outdoors in Israel has changed the country for me. It is the Land that I know deeply, well enough to want to come back outside again and again. I know what possibilities wait for me outdoors on every day of every season.
Now Israel is more than just my home. It is the familiar face of comfort, a Land always waiting to wrap me in its beauty.