Early Friday morning I took the train to Jerusalem to deliver some of my books, opting for a leisurely and enjoyable day rather than driving with crazy traffic on Erev Shabbat. At 5:30am I was on my way. That early it is not crowded and I chose a seat where I could view the Mediterranean Sea on the way down. Changing trains in Lod, we headed UP to Jerusalem through the beautiful Jerusalem Forest. I have always loved this part of the trip.
After arriving I took a taxi to Jaffa Gate / Christ Church. I was delivering my “Why is Great-Grandma So Sad?” books for Canon White to pick up. The bookstore was not open yet, where I was leaving them, so I enjoyed a 30 minute rest with hot chocolate and apple cake at the Christ Church Cafe. If you have not been there, I highly recommend it.
A little after 9am, I took the books to the store, marked them for Andrew, and walked out the door. A taxi was sitting right there, seemingly waiting just for me. (Who knows, maybe he was!) I hopped in and was immediately greeted with the remark, “The gates of the city have been closed; there was another stabbing at the Damascus Gate.”
We drove to the entrance of Jaffa Gate and they let us through right away. The taxi driver then began to speak telling me he is more than a taxi driver, but also a pastor. As a Christian Arab pastor he teaches his congregation a different teaching than most- that the Jews are their brothers and they need to embrace the Jewish roots. He had a rabbi come and teach about the Prayer Shawl. He tells them to read the Jewish Scriptures, understanding the Jews have the right to the land. He gives me his card asking me to tell others of their need for financial support for their church. He is not asking for himself- his life is difficult as a taxi driver and pastor, and his son is fighting leukemia- but he is concerned that his church will not continue and his message of brotherhood between the Arab and the Jew will not continue.
We arrive at the train station and I sit in the sun waiting for departure. We leave and wind through the beautiful forest, eventually reaching Beit Shemesh. From there we head for Lod. Suddenly the train whistle pierces the air, again, again and then continuous. Simultaneously, the train is braking. Coming off the mountain they have to brake hard. We feel the train brake very hard, then a crunch of metal under our car. We are at a full stop. We also see a motorcyclist walk past the train- without a motorcycle.
Over the intercom they announce we have just run over a motorcycle and please be patient. After about ten minutes they back the train up in stages and pull the wreckage out from under the carriage. Then we get underway. Arriving in Lod, we all disembark as the train must now go for a damage inspection. We must wait for the next train, the last one of the day before Shabbat.
While waiting I have the privilege to meet some tourists on their way to Akko as well. After exchanging pleasantries I offer them a ride to their hotel on our arrival. About 45 minutes later, we are on our way. Eventually arriving in Akko, I give the travelers a lift and head on home.
I completed my purpose and delivered my books; I had my train ride to and from Jerusalem. A reminder of the constant threat of Antisemitism with the knife attack; another reminder of how fragile life can be with the near miss for the motorcyclist. In addition, the opportunity to make new friends in the midst of somewhat chaotic circumstances.
But best of all for me- proof of God’s ability to continue to fulfill a simple request made almost 20 years ago: I told the Lord I would do anything for Him, just please make sure I am not bored. Once again I can still say, I definitely was not bored!
Rolling with the changes in the midst of storms,