I’ve decided I want to join the army. Wait, don’t reject me out of hand – this might work.
I can drive; I can use a computer; I can do…well, a lot of things. I might not be able to run as fast, jump as high. I certainly can’t shoot anything – I have this medical condition that makes it difficult to touch a gun. It has a term … it’s called … um … gunaphobia. But other than my … my … gunaphobia, I don’t have any allergies and I do really want to serve my country and I do believe in … well, whatever I have to do to get in there!
You probably think I’ve lost my mind, right? But, it’s easy to explain. See, I was folding laundry – I have a pile higher than a mountain in my living room. My kitchen is clean, but now I have to scrub it. I know that doesn’t make sense, but you see, it’s not about clean, it’s about crumb-free, bread-free, noodles-free.
On top of that – for months now, Elie’s room has been … well … let’s just say that I honestly don’t believe it is humanly possible to have a messier room. Elie is, like his parents, a collector. It doesn’t matter of what, only that whatever it is might be useful in the future, might remind you of something. I’ve spent almost two hours trying to clean Elie’s room and this idea just popped into my head. I want to join the army.
I’ve picked up string after string, papers of all sorts, a few stray bullets, even. Deep under the piles of clothes that should have been in the closet, there are toys from the child he was such a short time ago. And there are booklets from the army; army boots, and a used gun belt. There’s an extra pair of gloves he got while he was stationed near Gaza during the war. I’m opening every piece of paper, lest I accidentally throw something out by mistake. There’s an extra plastic thing that Elie once explained is used to manually calculate the angle of a missile. And if he says so, it must be true.
I found a listing of his soldiers and a two page handout of satirical lyrics that they probably wrote for the battalion vacation recently. They poked fun of one of the other battalions, showing gratitude for, of all things, at least not being part of that group.
I’ve folded dozens of dark gray socks and green undershirts. I’ve thrown out empty bags of pretty much every snack known to the Israeli child and a few that they don’t know. I found a package of American candy corns and two full bottles of water – including one that had a rope attached to it. I’m sure there’s a story there.
Passover is coming. It’s the time that we become obsessive about cleaning out our homes. Each of my children is cleaning their own space – more or less … and helping with the rest of the house as well. Today while I was at a client’s site, my middle son and one of my adopted sons cleaned the oven and the refrigerator. For 15 year old appliances, I have to say they look quite amazing!
All this work is symbolic, to a certain extent – but it’s also very physical. Passover is a time when we celebrate freedom – our freedom. It is a holiday of tremendous faith. Would you follow someone blindly into the desert? Would you leave the world you know – even if the conditions were bad – in the hope that tomorrow will be better? That’s the underlying story of Passover – have faith, trust, believe.
Passover is the time that Spring arrives – of flowers and the promise of summer. And Passover is the celebration of a victory over evil; over a kingdom that enslaved us; a people that abused us. From the weakest in the land, we were released, built into a nation, and given our homeland.
This is our land – ancient and beloved. We know where Joseph is buried and Samuel the Prophet. We know where our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried. We know where Rachel rests on the side of the road near Bethlehem; and Sarah and Rebecca and Leah, too.
Our connection to this land is there, here, for all to see. It is what makes this land so incredible. You walk and with each step, you feel those who came before. We are commanded to accept that all of the House of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments and God’s promise of the Torah.
On the anniversary of the night the Israelites left Egypt, Jews around the world will commemorate that moment with the Seder. This year, Elie will be here. By the time he gets here, maybe I’ll forget about my sore back, my tired eyes, worries about all sorts of things, most of which I can’t do anything about anyway. Too often, in the spirit of the minor details, we lose the meaning of the real and larger issues. That’s what happens to me almost every year and I am struggling to avoid it happening this year.
It works while I am out of the house … and then when I come home, I look at the rooms that still need to be done, the things that still need to be scrubbed. When the Jews left Egypt, some of them lost sight of the greater miracle and went astray to worship the golden calf. Perhaps there is a message there as well for me … if I only had the time to think about it.
Elie will come home to a clean room, fresh sheets and an organized closet … even if it kills me.
So, see, I return to the start of this post. I’m thinking that if I could join the army – I could maybe come home at the last minute to a clean house, cooked food, all the Passover food bought and stored away. Sheets changed, everything scrubbed. Please, please can I join the army?