Today, we are happy to share the next chapter in our online novel, Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage by Cheryl Dickow.
Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage was a true labor of love for author Cheryl Dickow whose own passions for the Holy Land and the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith are almost unquenchable. Elizabeth is the first work published by Bezalel Books which Cheryl established in late 2006; it centers on a woman whose life is at a crossroads and her realization that the only way to get back on track is to get to the roots of her faith—in the Holy Land—if it isn’t too late. Since the release of Elizabeth, Bezalel Books has published 40 additional titles that are perfect for the Catholic home, school or parish. Elizabeth is available in paperback or in Kindle format. Cheryl is also the author of the recent non-fiction book Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with Her Past
Awake, my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn. Psalm 57:9
If Miriam’s words had been a command, Beth’s sub-conscious could not have been more attentive. Beth couldn’t remember the last time she had slept so peacefully two nights in a row. It was as if every inch of her body had absorbed David’s words about his mother’s love and forgiveness and that of the merchant’s wife as well. Getting out of bed, Beth walked straight to the bible. She was intent on finding the verse about peace and tranquility and health. Somehow she just knew they were all connected.
Unsuccessful, Beth turned her attention to making a pot of coffee. Over the past two weeks she had come to crave the rich, dark taste and aroma of the coffee her hosts had provided. Once the coffee pot was set up and turned on, Beth made her way to the bathroom. There were a few items drying on the line across the tub and she removed them before she started the shower. As she washed her face and contemplated tomorrow’s trip home, she was reminded of Jacob’s struggle with an angel of God. Jacob, who wouldn’t release the angel until he had given Jacob a blessing, was determined to get his way, what he felt was rightfully his. Beth had those same feelings towards her life. She wanted what was rightfully hers, nothing more but certainly nothing less.
Stepping out of the shower, Beth dried herself and threw on her robe. Walking to the bedroom to get dressed, she thought about the day ahead. Oftentimes Beth got caught up in the small details of life. For instance, here she was, in Israel, and in thirty-six hours she would be in the states. Things like that seemed to always occupy her mind. She often wondered if other people found any fascination in these things.
While she dressed she took the opportunity to begin packing. She reasoned that if she did it in increments, it would be less painful. She was a “slowly-peel-off-the-band-aid” kind of a gal wherein Luke was a “rip-it-off-in-a-millisecond” kind of guy. Could the two find everlasting peace and happiness? She really wondered.
Eating a piece of flat bread and some cheese with her morning coffee, Beth heard footsteps in the hall. The day was underway, Beth thought with a heavy heart. She opened the door before Rachel had a chance to knock. Miriam, too, must have heard the footsteps and was in the hall.
“Let me just run and brush my teeth and then I’m good to go,” Beth said to them both.
“We’ll meet you in the car,” was Rachel’s reply.
Minutes later, getting into the car, Beth asked about the day’s agenda. She was game for anything and knew Rachel would have the perfect plans.
While they drove, Beth tried to fathom what they could do or see that would add to her trip. She felt, in her heart, that it had been more than she could have ever imagined and now she sat filled with a tremendous mix of emotions. She remembered when Sammy had outgrown the stroller. For many years it had been like a useless appendage to Beth. Everywhere she went, the stroller went. As soon as one child grew out of it, another needed it. And then, before she knew it, toddler Sammy was not interested in the comforts of chauffeur service from his mother or even his siblings. No, her youngest wanted to walk with everyone else. At first Beth was elated. Finally, she had said to herself.
Then, one day as she was driving home from work, she saw a young mother pushing a stroller. Pedaling along side the stroller was the “big” sister. Beth had guessed the little girl’s age to be around three. There was a little sway to the girl’s peddling and her pony tails were waving back and forth. Beth, of course, could not remember any of her walks as peaceful as the one she had just witnessed.
Beth mostly remembered Michael or Sophia complaining that she was walking too fast or too far. Then Joseph would begin crying and soon everyone was miserable. But time sweetened her memories and as Beth drove past this mother pushing the stroller she was overcome with melancholy. Melancholy was an odd mixture of sadness and regret mingled with the beauty of a memory of what once was and is no more.
That was exactly how Beth felt today. Melancholy. Of course she couldn’t wait to see her children and yet she was realistic enough to know that the aura would rub off rather quickly and within days, maybe even hours, her life would be right back where it was. And that was her dilemma. She had not spent any real time, in Israel, thinking of her hopes and dreams and of what life had become without her permission. Now she was just hours from returning and had no answers.
When she boarded the plane two short weeks prior, she assumed she would have answers. Somewhere in the middle of the Holy Land she expected God to speak to her, clearly and succinctly, so that she could either accept her life or move on. But He had not spoken to her. Not in so many words, at least. He had touched her heart in ways she couldn’t even begin to describe but He had not given her the clear answers she had wanted so very much regarding her marriage and her life.
Rachel pulled into a spot on a street in front of a large apartment complex and put the car in park. Beth looked inquiringly at Miriam who shrugged and smiled. Rachel was already out of the car, obviously full of anticipation for whatever was held in this building.
Beth and Miriam joined Rachel at the front door and followed her into a beautifully marbled foyer with lush green ferns perched atop tall alabaster columns that flanked the sides of the stairs as well as the elevator door.
“Here we are!” Rachel announced.
“Which is where?” Beth asked.
“My home,” Rachel answered in an elevated voice. She was barely able to contain her excitement.
“Do we need to pick something up?” was all Beth could think of as she followed both Rachel and Miriam up the stairs.
Not answering, Rachel opened the first door to their left on the second floor. Right away Beth noticed a beautifully set table with crystal water goblets and china that was catching the light from the window. The chairs were upholstered with rollback tops and skirted bottoms. The table was covered in a delicate lace tablecloth. The silverware was ornate with carved handles of silver and gold. As the women approached the table Beth could see that the design on the silverware was of intricately woven tendrils of vine that matched the design on the outer edge of the plates. Everything was beautiful.
“Since you were such a good sport about us hijacking you to go kayaking, we hoped you would also be agreeable to this. We have decided to spend the day together, here in the apartment, just visiting. Sort of like the young girls today have pajama parties! Sharing our heart’s desires, life’s challenges, dancing around, and giggling along the way. The only thing we won’t do is set each other’s hair! What do you think?”
Miriam looked at Beth to see her reaction as well as hear her words. Like Ayala, Miriam had a way of knowing things. A sixth sense, really. And Beth knew that if she wasn’t agreeable to this day, neither Miriam nor Rachel would have had a problem. They would clear the table and head out the door and enjoy whatever Beth had in mind. “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day here! Let the pajama party begin!”
Join us next week for the next chapter of Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage by Cheryl Dickow. Can’t wait for more? Check out Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage at Amazon!