Since my unexpected hospitalization back in August and since turning 40 and perhaps just because, I’ve been exploring what it is that I really want to be doing with my life here in Israel while I balance a part-time job working for a research company and mothering four children.
Looking back to that time in August, I can say with great confidence that one of the main causes for my apparent speedy release from the hospital was the effects of the harmonic prayers sung to me at my bedside by my dear friend and her 12-year-old daughter.
I felt so comforted and so unafraid while in their presence.
Just thinking back to those precious moments brings me to tears of pure gratitude.
Which has brought me to thinking that perhaps I was blessed (not only to survive that hospital experience, but with a beautiful voice and musical capabilities) for a reason.
And in speaking with a kibbutz friend of mine who works as a spiritual counselor (chaplain) for an incredible Israeli organization, Haverut, (which empowers the medical center to become a healing center for the body and mind) and my new interest in “giving back” to patients what I received when I was hospitalized, I got to thinking… hmmmm… maybe life is really unfolding in front of my eyes.
And perhaps I need to recognize the doors that may be opening in front of me.
So, the first thing I did was purchase a musical instrument.
Good thing I wasn’t stuck on buying a harmonium because in the end I bought something entirely different, both in its home country (made in Germany rather than in India), its sound (sweet harp-like sounds rather than heavy organ-like sounds), and its size (light and portable as opposed to heavy and bulky).
I bought a Sansula.
I never heard of it before entering the shop selling authentic musical instruments in Tel Aviv.
But I started to play it and fell in love.
And didn’t think twice about purchasing it.
I knew it was what I wanted.
Since then, I traveled to Jerusalem to shadow two men (who call themselves “healing musicians”) who work for Haverut and lift the spirits of those who are ill and recuperating at the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.
These two men are nothing short of professional; with Navot on the guitar and Avshalom on the flute, they not only have pitch-perfect voices, but they can play nearly anything requested and can play at least one song in the following languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish.
I am grateful for the three hours I spent with them, not only because I was able to observe the effects of their music and presence on the patients, but I was able to learn from them some of the norms and expectations that go along with this “job” (if you can call it that).
The truth is, as I entered each patient’s room with them, I found myself having a recurrent thought: “I want to be like them.”
I want to be as talented as they are.
I want to be able to play guitar like Navot and pull songs out of a hat with ease.
I want to be able to sing in six languages.
But, as soon as I noticed myself getting stuck, I stopped.
And took a breath.
And saw what perhaps was underneath all of this: the fact that I am an “educated” woman (with a master’s of science degree in occupational therapy and experience working in rehab settings) and yet I am not putting my education to work and haven’t felt fulfilled professionally since making aliyah.
But, I was able to change perspectives.
And instead of being stuck on wanting to be like the amazing healing musicians I met in Jerusalem, I realized that yes, I have the potential to become a medical musician (if this is where my heart will guide me), but that my gift to the patients would be something entirely different from the gift Navot and Avshalom offer to theirs.
My music won’t be familiar songs on the radio or in synagogues, but perhaps rather improvisational instrumentals or melodies of personalized blessings accompanied by the magical harp-like sounds of the Sansula.
And so, when I volunteer this week on the rehab floor at the local hospital in Afula, I will go in with an open mind and nothing more.
And not wanting to be anyone else, other than myself.
Knowing that what I am doing now is exploring my possibilities.
And creating opportunities.
And continuing, as always, to watch the life unfold moment by moment.