In Hebrew there is a concept of "Shlichut." It is when you are sent from Israel to live abroad on behalf of some Jewish or Zionist organization or federation. In the religious world, if you tell people you are moving out of Israel, they ask if you are going on "shlichut." And when people asked me that before we left to travel around North America over two years ago, I replied, with a sort of chuckle at the obviousness of my answer: No, I am just going to travel and live my own life.
But somehow, by no specific original intention, I realized yesterday, after my last day teaching Kindergarten and First Grade at Kesher (Jewish educational program) that what I have been doing here for the past two years - with the total of 34 kids that were under my care over the course of this time, and specifically the 17 that were in my KG-1st Grade class - was actually a type of "shlichut" - a sacred mission of fulfilling and passing onward gifts of compassion and connection that were brought here through this little Earthling that is me.
I feel like I am leaving short of the completion of this task, and that I have a lot more to do here, like continuing with these kids on through all their school years, but I am being called by my inner mission to go back to Israel in the coming year.
Funnily enough, when I expressed this to Tal, he reminded me that before we left Israel over two years ago, I felt exactly the same way about what I was doing in Israel. I had started projects and felt I hadn't properly finished them, that I was still on a mission that was not yet completed, something I was cutting short. But I left, and came here, to ultimately travel, but to essentially inspire and be be inspired by the lives of children and adults alike, who have welcomed me into this unique Jewish community and appreciated me and the unique things I brought (things I was not fully aware of, actually, beforehand).
In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined arriving and becoming an integral part of such a community and such children. I thought we were coming to the US to live on the road, to see beautiful sights, to be awed by nature (which all DID happen, too, including in Bellingham!). And then, when we found Bellingham (by finding the most awesome community food co-op in the US), naturally I connected with the Jewish community. I remember when we were still living in the minivan one day, and were parked by the co-op, I was on the phone with my new friend Elkah for the first time (who I found through Facebook), and she was openly telling me about her life before even having met me in person!
Somehow, I became a part of all three Jewish congregations here in Bellingham (Reform, Renewal, Chabad), and I may be the only one in town as such. It is quite astonishing. This was largely due to my religious upbringing back in Israel, which enabled me to feel comfortable with the traditions and customs in each of these communities, to feel like family, and to lead prayer services and song circles and to read from the Torah numerous times.
This is not (yet) a parting post, because I still have a few more months here, but it is a kind of finality, since the school year is ending. And this is not a post to gloat, but rather to express my gratitude for being a being through which abundance of certain types can manifest in this material world. I am on a journey of trying to fulfill the gifts I was born with, so I do not thank myself but rather the universe around me who has brought me into this world with the capacity to feel inspired and to love.