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.
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither. Psalm 137:5
Beth slept fitfully, but that wasn’t anything new. Another bi-product of menopause. Beth sneered at articles touting the joys of post-menopausal life. So far, she wasn’t a believer. And she was sure that the onset of this time in her life coinciding with her son’s departure to college didn’t do much to add to her ability to cope. She had to admit that the Lord must have a tremendous amount of confidence in her to spring this all on at once. Either that or He had a great sense of humor!
At one point during her restlessness, Beth opened her eyes to see the woman in the next seat feeding the little guy some dry cereal. Both seemed quite content and Beth started wondering if they were Americans on their way to Israel for a visit with friends or family, or if they were Israelis having just spent time in America. Or, were they Palestinians or Lebanese or Muslim? Actually, the whole realm of possibilities made Beth want to giggle, something that would have mortified Sophia. Beth was somewhat dismayed at how easily her daughter seemed to be embarrassed by Beth’s words and actions. Right now, though, it didn’t matter. Beth felt as if she was on an adventure of a lifetime. It was better than anything she had ever read, with limitless possibilities. And she wasn’t going to let anything get in her way.
Beth watched as the mother fed her youngster and smoothed his hair, while he turned his face upwards and looked at his mother with deep brown eyes. Whoever they were, their loving actions and gestures towards one another revealed to Beth that family commitment was universal. Just as quickly as Beth’s curiosity about their nationality invaded her thoughts, it left. And in its wake was the understanding that love transcended all labels that the world might wish to impose on one another. And then Elizabeth was fast asleep.
The pilot’s voice called out to Beth in her dreams but she couldn’t rouse herself enough to pay attention. She didn’t have any sense of landing gear coming down and refused to be awakened by the general comments regarding time and weather conditions. She moved her pillow from the left side of her head to her right, rolled her head on top of it, and went back to her dreams.
It was a beautiful spring day. The weather was warm, the wind blowing gently through the newly sprouted leaves. The sun warmed her skin and she took off her lightweight jacket. She didn’t need it as she bent down to begin work on her garden. She was inspecting last year’s growth on a few bushes while deciding where to plant the early blooming larkspur plants. She loved their tall spikes and the gorgeous rose, pink, and lavender colors that she had selected. She knew what magnificent arrangements these made when cut and brought indoors and was already anticipating the centerpieces she would be able to construct. She finally decided to place the Larkspur behind her dwarf Morning Glories. She thought the contrast of heights and colors would be perfect.
As she began digging, her spade hit something hard. She bent forward to get a closer look as she used her fingers to gently pull the dirt away from the hard substance. She seemed to know that the spade would scratch or ruin whatever it was that she had discovered. Like an expert archeologist uncovering the find of the century, she brushed back the dirt to find an oval shaped rock. She picked it up and was stunned to catch a glimpse of the sun’s rays reflecting off the tiniest of spots that was free from dirt. She brushed at that small spot and almost dropped the treasure when she realized that it might be a diamond. She looked around to see if anyone was watching and then ran to her home.
She rushed into the small mudroom adjacent to the garage where there was a sink and ran the water over the rock. It was a diamond! As it caught the light from the ceiling, it sparkled unlike anything she had ever seen. She stood holding the diamond and, as always, woke up.
Beth had been having this dream for well over a year now. Every few months it became more vivid, more detailed. Each time it progressed a bit more as if it were a story slowly, almost painfully, revealing itself, much to the frustration of Elizabeth. What are you saying to me? she would moan upon waking. The first time she had the dream she had just been standing in the garden and could literally feel the sun’s warmth on her face. The next time she had the dream she was gathering gardening tools. After that one, was the one where she was contemplating the arrangement of the plants. There had been a few more since then, but now this one was incredible! It now felt complete except for the fact that she was still clueless as to its meaning. And here she was, on her way to Israel. What did it all mean?
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv." He continued on but Elizabeth’s thoughts were more pressing than his announcements. Why, in heaven’s name, would the dream finally come to completion on her trip to Israel? She was both frustrated and intrigued when she looked out the window and was overcome with emotion. Tears welled up in her eyes and would not stop their journey until they were falling, quite consistently, down her cheeks and onto her lap. Although their origin was a mystery to her, Elizabeth welcomed their release. She knew they had been a long timing coming. She felt a small pressure on her arm and looked down. The little boy next to her had placed his small hand on her sleeve. When she looked at him, he said, "It will be okay." And she knew it would.
About the Author
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