We approach gate 41 to Tel Aviv and the sight of yarmulkes, black flat brimmed hats and shin-length skirts grab my attention before I truly notice the gate number. I smile and quietly tell Ben, “I think this is our gate.”
Gate B41, to be exact, is a sampling of composition borrowed by a newer artist from an older, and possibly, obscure one.
Gate B41 is a rift that one may recognize from an old song embedded in a new hip song. Youthful listeners don’t know the originality of the rift.
There is very little new at this gate. There is the newness of the gate itself, equipped with technology beaming information to us faster than we can respond. I have an unobstructed view of illuminated screens from any direction I decide to turn. Passengers’ smart phones ding with constant updates. My son’s fingers fly across a tablet as he tries to outwit a game. It is all new, yet there is that which hails from an ancient place and I don’t recognize its originality.
How did I get here? Who chose this for me?
If I had planned this, I would have chosen something much more blatantly recognizable, something that allows me to belt out ALL the lyrics from heart.
Perhaps Central America. That’s a jam I know — Spanish language, the plight of the indigenous, and the climate. I even know the Mayan creation story of Popol Voh, men formed from mud by the gods.
But at Gate B41, I am not able to follow along so easily. There is not one word I hear that I can translate into English, here at Gate B41. A cacophony of secular, orthodox and tourists wait at Gate B41. My stomach begins to churn. I am feeling unsettled — unfamiliarity is unnerving me. I have nothing to hang on to here. I am completely empty of my own vices, my own knowledge, and my own cleverness. Aha! Empty!
The beginning of transformation takes emptying myself first! As uncomfortable as I am with this old song played new, it is necessary for my growth.
In a familiar place I would not have to rely on much, or anyone. I would remain arrogant.
Emptiness makes room for a complete filling up of life, of empathy, of Elohim.
Hmm? Yeah, that’s a song I want to learn. I’ll struggle with the new words, look awkward moving to the new layers added to my old groove, but I’ll learn. I may even thank the artist for inviting me to listen.
I am boarding now at Gate B41 and my stomach is still queasy.