March 26 – 2016 10 p.m.
Not quite on the eve but coming close. A mountain of details still looms ahead, not to speak of the task of judicious packing, a skill I have never quite mastered. On Easter day the long absence of more than two months will begin, just when the spring blooms are about to appear in all their glory. The Princess Irene tulips have been out for more than a week with the cooler weather preventing their sometimes all too speedy decline. They are now joined by a number of other beauties, like this Tulip Monselia.I can’t remember when tulip time begins in The Netherlands, but I see that the Keukenhof opened just this week. Of course, it is not for admiring flowers that I am going, although there is some consolation in the thought. Ahead lies the adventure of teaching in Sweden, after which it is on to Israel. The European part of the trip should be interesting not least because surely the presence of the flood of refugees will be noticeable. For the first time in many years I will have to show my passport when crossing from Holland into Denmark and Sweden. Feels like going back to the old days while actually this is an entirely new era. Passport requirements in Europe are not that old, dating back to World War I. Is it back to the old days in more ways than one?
Papers for authorizing a person to cross borders are in reality very old indeed. Nehemiah requested and received such a paper from King Artaxerxes in the last part of the fifth century BCE, in order for him to traverse certain regions and countries on his way from Persia to Judah. Not that Nehemiah did not land in a boat load of trouble anyway, but that is another story. Check it out! How long ago is it that you actually sat down to read Ezra and Nehemiah? It’s all about going home and not finding it quite such a comfortable place.