The first group of women left Israel the evening of our last day of touring. We arrived at the hotel in just enough time for them to shower, eat, and shove the last few items into their bags. We all met in the lobby and hugged each other, saying our goodbyes. We followed them to the bus, waved, and ran alongside them to the end of the sidewalk.
Over half of our group was gone.
Few of us knew each other before landing in Israel. Some people knew no one. We had connected leading up to the trip. We emailed updates and chatted through our private Facebook group. But meeting face to face and living alongside each other for two weeks was different. Many became lifelong friends. Several had to deal with irritations and conflicts. We processed our experiences together. We shared our backgrounds and our dreams. We talked about our struggles, and committed to staying in touch to support one another. Our time together united us…
…and we squeezed every memory out of the last few hours.
The next group wasn’t scheduled to leave until 1:30 a.m., but we didn’t want them to stay awake on their own, so we piled into my room and chatted and played games. It was a sweet time. No one seemed to mind sacrificing sleep. It was as if we were already full and content with our time together, but we added a pile of whipped cream and a cherry on top of the experience. We laughed and shared until it was time to roll the heavy suitcases to the lobby and wait for the van. Again, we waved and ran alongside until the end of the sidewalk. There were fewer of us.
We had time for a short nap before the final group got up to eat and leave at 7:30 a.m. I hugged them and waved as I ran to the end of the sidewalk by myself. Then I ate breakfast at one of our group tables…alone.
I prayed for each women. I was alone but not lonely. My heart was full.
People come and go out of our lives, but what we do with the time we spend with them is essential. We can be nourished by our friendships or take them for granted and waste the limited time we have. We can long for more with discontent and never be satisfied, or we can long for more so that we continue to invest and receive and end up grateful for the time we’ve had.
I am grateful.