Out of time

Illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham

I’m out of time. No, it has little to do with aging itself, but as I walk the Narrow Path along the 21th century streets of Jerusalem I stroll along with King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet. And along the way is David the king and Saul before him and the sound of many chariots.

Then there is the fearsome clash of Babylonian warriors as the first temple comes crashing to the ground, and the Jewish people are dragged off to Babylon. And there are the footsteps of Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of the Holy City with spade and sword.

And there along the narrow passageways of the Old City is Yeshua carrying his cruel cross to Golgotha, and there are Shimon and Shaul and Yohanan standing on the cobblestones and passionately speaking out the news of the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead. And there I see the Romans in their brutality tearing down Jerusalem and burning the second temple and dispersing the Jewish people as slaves and exiles. And I cringe as I watch my own relatives walk into the death camps of the Nazi monsters.

Sometimes I get stuck there on the idyllic chalk streams of Hampshire with Sir Isaac Walton, casting a fly on a horsehair line to rising trout. It’s hard to leave, believe me. And other times with Jim Bridger in the wild and pristine Rockies, and with John Muir in the untouched Sierra wilderness, and in the little cabin with Thoreau at Walden Pond.

I find myself betimes walking with General Washington at the Delaware, trying to stay warm over a fire at Christmas. At other times I am there at Gettysburg at the cataclysmic battle, and later with General Grant as Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House. And I am there as Booth sneaks into Ford’s theatre to murder President Lincoln, and later at the simpler and innocent days of my own youth, sneaking into a forbidden lake to catch forbidden bass (the worst of my crimes).

Then I find myself walking in the future where all that past accumulates into one, and there is the King of the Jews again walking the Earth, just as he promised. And there I hear the lovely sound of gushing waters flowing from the Temple Mount and down the Kidron Valley to the Dead Sea which has come to life, with fish all along its course.

And I am plucking fruit from the trees growing along its banks, and hearing no more tears, no more wars, and the songs of joy and thanksgiving everywhere.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.