Since I’ve returned to Israel after our summer adventures, I’ve been asked one question a few times: Did you really miss Israel while you were gone?
While I was away, I wrote about how much I missed the Land in my emails and posts. But despite my proclamations, I understand why people would question my true feelings. In the summertime, Israel can be hot and dusty. It’s on the crowded side. The terrain is typically dry and golden. How could I really miss Israel while I was off exploring beautiful places?
Could I possibly think longingly of home while hiking in a flower field, up a mountain, towards a glacier?
It was great to get away for a bit and spend time with my family. But I did miss home. I missed the distinctive smell and feel of the air and the taste of the water in Israel. I missed our sunset walks, watching birds glide in the cool evening air. I daydreamed about the scent of ripening figs hanging off the trees in the summertime.
But more than that, I’ve come to realize that (almost) every land has its own special beauty. Our Land is like a unique snowflake, and no quantity of glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, or raging rivers will cause me to forget that. I may love experiencing the varied beauty of God’s world and taking my family to new and different places. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are blessed to live in a beautiful Land.
It took me years to appreciate the special type of wonder found in the Land of Israel. I became light of heart when I finally discovered the magic of the desert: the silence, the stark beauty, the abundant animal life. For years, I didn’t appreciate the twisty bark of olive trees and grape vines, the flower explosion of winter, or the golden grass of summer.
I didn’t appreciate these things because I was contrasting Israel with the place I grew up in – a land of oversized trees and excessive wetness. Israel is not that place. There is no reason that it should be. Our Holy Land has its own varied beauty, from the hills of the Golan to the coral reefs in the Red Sea. Our diverse terrain is unparalleled in any land of Israel’s size. This Land is especially beautiful, and it is also hot and dry in the summertime.
Every place has appealing traits and those that are less so. Now that I truly appreciate the beauty of Israel, I no longer contrast its diminutive oak trees with the tall Live Oaks of New Orleans. Instead, I value what makes Israel uniquely beautiful.
This is our country, our home. And it happens to be one of the most wonderful places on earth. We are lucky to be here.