1. Growing Up
During the last weekend of my first stay in Jerusalem, I had the pleasure of attending lunch at an unknown Rabbi’s house with four of my close friends from Toronto. It was one of those experiences in which all the right adjectives seem to contradict each other: extremely loud while being serene at the same time, chaotic with moments of intense intimacy. The discussions were heated yet peaceful. Drinks were spilled, and with the amount of guests that kept arriving unannounced, there weren’t enough chairs. But the hosts (obviously used to this) had us squish so we could use the couches that had been pushed to the side. I wasn’t even able to get a look at everyone who was there, yet I felt like we all personally connected.
I spent the meal either in close conversation with my surrounding friends or leaning back and watching the scene unfold in front of me. To say the least, it was quite something.
As my friends and I were saying goodbye near the front door, the Rabbi’s wife, realizing that we hadn’t had a chance to talk during the hectic meal, asked us where we were from and how we knew each other. (It still amazes me that I had just eaten in someone’s house and played with her children without her knowing anything about me.)
We told her that we were friends from Canada who had all ended up in Jerusalem at the same time.
She said, “Oh, did you grow up together?”
The answer of course, is no. We haven’t known each other for that much time and we are all well into our 20’s.
But without thinking twice I answered, “Yes”. Then realizing my mistake I added,
Pretty deep, eh?
We thanked her and continued on our way.
Saying that my friends and I have grown up together metaphorically is a beautiful idea, but as deep as the thought seemed at the time, something wasn’t sitting right. I only now realize what happened in that moment.
I believe that the experiences we are given in the material, physical world are metaphors for things that can later be understood on a much deeper level. Having to be patient as a kid while my scraped knee healed (and not picking the scab to avoid scarring) was a metaphor for the slow and tedious process of working through life’s heartbreaks. My needing to scratch an itch is a metaphor to teach me not to ignore my internal “itches”. And my growing up from a baby into a girl is a metaphor for the internal growing that is going to happen for the rest of my life, if I choose to do so.
My family, friends, and mentors: my connections. We have identified each other’s itches and helped scratch the ones that are too hard to reach. We’ve been scraped physically, emotionally and spiritually. And we are healing. We have opened eyes, held hands, and shared the purest joy. We are witnessing each other’s first steps, sometimes holding each other and sometimes watching from afar, knowing that the steps need to be taken independently. And we have helped each other gather our thoughts and say our first words, as I am doing right now.
My friends, we haven’t grown up together metaphorically.
We are growing up together.
Our paths have met, diverged, paralleled and intersected on the line of time, and will continue doing so, always moving forward. Some of us will remain closely connected until the end of our time-bound days, and some of us will inspire and ricochet off each other onto seemingly separate paths.
May we continue to connect and bring beauty into this world while always growing.
(Written March 2010)