My heart is in the east, and I am in the uttermost west.”
I think of these words often — really, whenever I am in one place and feel my heart pulled elsewhere. We think of this two-places-at-once feeling as part of our post-modern lives. Long distance relationships, friends scattered across the globe, mom on one coast and dad on another, these are all as everyday as the dawn.
But the man who wrote of his heart in the east was the 12th Century poet and philosopher Judah HaLevi. He lived in Spain and yearned for the Land of Israel. All that’s changed is that now most of us live in some kind of “diaspora” (even those of us blessed to be doing so by our own choice).
I am about to fly east to spend three months in Tel Aviv. (I am typing this post with my thumbs as I sit in Kennedy Airport’s Terminal B!) And I can tell you truthfully that I am full of joy to be going AND already looking forward to returning home.
I love my work and the community I live in and I feel like I’m just starting to “put down a root,” as a local elder put it.
Leaving the home we just moved into a few months ago feels a tiny bit like saying goodbye to a new love.
I won’t get to see what autumn looks like in our yard. Our first snow “together” will have to wait until next year.
At the same time, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to have this opportunity to be in Tel Aviv — working on my Hebrew fluency, immersing in Israeli culture, and (oh, right) living a few blocks from the Mediterranean.
I take great comfort in knowing that Judah HaLevi felt similarly pulled in two directions long ago. Why it’s comforting to realize that this quandary is not a new one I don’t know. But, at least in my case, having more than one place that has a claim on me is a pretty good quandary to have.