Deserts and Dreams
Whether plants or people, there are times and seasons in every life. Each one has its beauty and its blessing, its pain and sometimes sorrow. Summer in Israel/Palestine, with its unending, relentless heat, dryness and desert winds, seems an overly long season this year. Perhaps it’s the tedious stream of almost daily, or at least weekly, “incidents” that plague our region, or the flow of ludicrous statements from our politicians, or maybe it’s the way the world looks on and loudly trumpets its opinions about everything that happens here.
Seasons are due to change as we move into the short transition to Middle Eastern winter. It has been a hot dry season that spontaneously combusts to flame and suffers arson. Regardless of the reason, vast stretches of our limited forests have burned this year. Fatigue is a constant and we await the autumn rains, praying for respite, praying for change.
Being arid, this land is ultimately dependent on the grace of God to provide rain enough to grow crops and refresh the aquifers that supply significant amounts of water to our cities and towns. Control of the limited water resources is yet another area of great contention between the two peoples in this land. Israelis always have water flowing through their pipes, while Palestinians have to wait for Israel to release water, much of which comes from underground sources in Palestine. As an Israeli, I can’t recall ever having to seriously limit water usage. Palestinians have to face this issue daily. Equitable distribution of water is one of the major issues in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But that’s another blog post. . .
We pray for rain as part of the liturgy for our autumn festivals. According to the Jewish calendar, we have just entered a new month – the month of Elul. This is the season of Israel’s high holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashana, the New Year, moving to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and ending with Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s at Succot when strong prayers are employed to entreat God to be gracious and give us rain. We do not receive rain because we deserve it; rather we receive rain because God is gracious. His rain falls indiscriminately on both the just and the unjust.
We need rain for the land and we need it for our souls. Dryness is an insidious drainer of energy and life, whether spiritual or physical. Rehydration would be wonderful. Deserts have a peculiar beauty but if there is no water, they will bring desiccation and death. Seasons of dryness, although they often seem interminable, do not last forever. They may be late, but the early rains will come this year as they have every year. The seasons will shift.
It’s been a long, hot summer with little relief. I dream of torrents of rain, lush greenness for the land and refreshment for the souls of the peoples of this land.