Ever since I moved to Israel, I’ve made a trip back to the States yearly.
And each time, I bring back gifts for my family and friends.
Over the years I’ve brought back:
New Israeli wines,
soaps and olive oil from the Galilee,
Bedouin tea kettles,
hand-made challah boards,
beautifully painted rocks from Tzfat;
local fruits (shh… don’t tell the authorities!),
teas and coffees,
Dead Sea soaps and creams,
and even some Israeli coins for the little ones.
Why do I do this?
Part of me wants to support the local businesses here.
Part of me wants to express my pride in Israel and share that with others.
Part of me wants to be generous.
And part of me thinks that I created a monster – after having brought gifts yearly for the past six years – perhaps now there’s a certain expectation from me to continue doing so!
This year, as I started a new-found hobby of painting, I decided that I would not purchase any gifts this year.
No, I would bring my family and friends beautiful artwork.
That I would create.
At the time that this thought came to mind, I didn’t anticipate it being such a feat.
I took the advice of a my artist friend who suggested I sketch out my ideas before painting them on canvas.
A mandala was what I had in mind originally.
And then placing inside of it 13 words that I’ve been using in one of my spirituality groups.
And writing words in Hebrew instead of English.
Then, I felt ready.
I went to the local art store.
Purchased canvases, paintbrushes, and acrylic paints.
And started to plan the backgrounds for these canvases.
I was looking for something simple.
Something on which to put the words.
For fun and for company, I invited a friend over for an evening and we played around with painting backgrounds on six canvases.
And came up with these.
And I was really pleased with the outcomes.
A few nights later, I was ready to paint on the words.
And here was the result.
What, you can’t see anything?
Well, there’s a reason for that.
I didn’t like how it turned out.
So, I completely painted over everything I did!
I realized this was going to be much more difficult than it appeared!!!
I guess there’s a reason they call artists artists!
Yes, I was stuck on bringing back some beautiful home-made gifts and nothing was gonna stop me.
So, I went back to my artist friend with my dilemma who suggested I purchase a calligraphy brush.
Which I did.
And Hebrew calligraphy specifically.
I watched a movie clip on YouTube and I spent time figuring out how to hold the brush the right way in order to make my letters appear like they just jumped out of a Torah scroll.
But, I was on a mission.
Part English, part Hebrew.
It’s hanging now in my kitchen.
It looks like a second grader made it.
Ok, maybe not a second grader.
But certainly not someone from the artist colony from Tzfat (which is what I was striving for).
I’m certain it won’t last hanging on my kitchen wall for too long.
Honestly, just the thought that I could produce something even close to an artist who does this for a living is crazy.
But, what could I do?
I was stuck.
Told myself how I was feeling.
Checked to see what may have been Underneath all of this?
And Considered choosing another perspective.
Which led me to believe that yes, I can choose not to bring gifts this time and I can choose to let go of the thought that I need to bring gifts year to year.
Which is what I’ve reconciled.
So, I’ll leave the paints and canvases for the kids.
And get on the plane empty-handed.
But full of heart and full of compassion.