Today, we will be picking up our new companion, Nicole, from the airport near Tel Aviv.
“I think you worked with her in the CCA.” Alexei said. (CCA -Critical Care Area- is what Evergreen Hospital calls the ICU.)
“No, I worked with a Noelle. Do you mean Noelle?”
“No, her name is Nicole. I thought she was there when you were.”
“Nope. I don’t remember her. But, I have to tell you one of my favorite stories about Noelle. You know my husband died in the CCA. After he died, I walked out of the room and there were my coworkers waiting to give me their condolences. I went up to Noelle first and she hugged me; I started crying and laid my head on her chest. A moment later, I lifted my head and said, “You have great boobs, Noelle” then laid my head back down on those comforting boobs and cried my eyes out. She stopped working in the ICU soon after and we lost contact, but, I saw her on facebook just last year and asked her if she still had those comforting boobs. She sent me a message saying, ‘The girls are still great.’ Ahh, I loved Noelle.” I sighed. “Well anyway, tell me about Nicole.”
“Nicole is an emergency tech at the hospital now. She was married, but her husband died in the last couple of years, I think. She is also a professional photographer and she’ll share her photos with us. She will also have her lap top with her, so we can use it for emails.”
“Does she mind swearing?”
“She will have no trouble keeping up with us.” He laughed.
“Okay, cool.” Hmm, I hope she is cool because we will be roommates from here on out. I am glad she is a photographer because I am worried I will not be able to keep up physically with her and Alexei and don’t want to hold them back; but, photographers stop a lot to take pictures so, hopefully, it will give me time to catch up and take a breath. I hope anyway.
We got to the airport and Alexei started walking ahead of me to go find Nicole. When I got near I could see him hugging a woman and started walking toward them. Hmm, that body looks familiar…I think I know…hey is that…Noelle? “Noelle…Noelle is that you?” Finally, Alexei let me see her and YAY, IT IS NOELLE!! I was jumping up and down like a kid and hugging my dear Noelle. I was sooo happy to see her! Alexei had a satisfied smile on his face. Apparently he and my friends from the CCA had conspired to keep it a secret from me for months. What a good secret; what a good bunch of friends I have!
Noelle and her girls:
We planned on a day trip outside of Jerusalem, but apparently, Noelle had already been tripping. At Heathrow airport in London, the Israeli security told her, “We know you are a terrorist and have bomb making materials in your luggage.”
WHAT THE FUCK!
They pulled her aside and, with minimal privacy screening from gawkers, she said they strip searched her. Then they kept interrogating her in both English and Hebrew which, of course, she did not understand. After some time doing this, they finally told her they saw suspicious equipment in her bags. She informed them she was a photographer and had three camera bodies, multiple lenses and battery chargers. Were they confusing these with bomb making materials?
Well, yes they were!
They let her get dress, put a yellow sticky note in her passport and told her to not remove it. Eventually, someone apologized to her and helped her make her flight to Cairo.
I could see Noelle was coping and that someday this would make a good story for her to tell, but, I think it was a pretty scary experience. To top it off, when we got to the hotel and checked her messed up luggage, she was missing her jacket. Despite all of this, she wanted to continue with our day trip plans, so off we went.
Our first stop was the Herodium just south of Jerusalem. The Herodium is a fortress and a palace built by Herod the Great on top of a hill that looked like a truncated volcano:
(Picture from Wikipedia)
We climbed to the top and looked around. I think this picture is looking down at a water holding area and also an outlying village.
(Picture by Noelle Meluskey)
This next one is looking down into the ruins.
(by Noelle Meluskey)
Walking down into the cistern and catacombs:
And coming back out:
I found myself walking alone, while Noelle and Alexei explored and visited. I was feeling a little weird and felt a need to say, “Hello” to these ruins.
In my mind, I saw an image of an arrogant man; an angry, self righteous man. He said, “Jesus is remembered by the world with love and respect; and has had a profound effect upon it. All I have is this place to be remembered by.”
Ay yi yi, okay, it’s happening here! I have no idea what to say or do. I don’t really know for sure who Herod was. But, here is this very angry spirit and I do know about stuck spirits, so here goes.
“Okay, so you have been hanging around here a long time, hanging on to the memory of who you were. Wouldn’t you like to move on?”
“NO!” he roared. “If I leave this place no one will remember me. If I let go, what will happen to Herod? I will become part of a larger Self and Herod will disappear. THIS IS MY PLACE and I am NOT leaving it!”
Yikes! Okay, so he can be a little intimidating, but, I’ve seen worse.
“So what? The character Herod has been dead for centuries. You could evolve, become more, and get a life.”
I don’t know what else to say. This guy is very adamant. I have no investment in him leaving. Why am I even having this conversation? Just then I felt a strong urge to say:
“I forgive you.”
He stepped back, his eyes bore into mine then his face softened. “You forgive me?”
“You don’t hate me?”
“What about God?”
“God doesn’t hate you either.”
OH my God, what am I saying? How do I know what God feels? I don’t, but, I am really feeling this very strong urge and I gotta let these words come out of my mouth. Sheesh.
“You did your job, you served a larger purpose.”
“You mean He used me!”
“You could perceive it that way or maybe there is a better way.”
He closed his eyes a moment, and then sighed. “Do you really think I could move on?”
“Okay, then. I am going.” A light appeared and he moved toward it. Just before he entered he turned to me. “Thanks.” Then he was gone.
I just stood there for a bit as I grounded and centered myself again. I wondered what experiences this trip was going to bring and if this was one way I was going to be of service to Love.
In writing this blog, I looked up Herod the Great and found he was not a nice man. He is described as a brutal man who killed a lot of people including his wife and sons. He was the declared King of the Jews. He is also the Herod that appears in the Gospel according to Matthew (Ch. 2) which describes the event known as the Massacre of the Innocents. This came about after the Magi had told Herod they were looking for “the one having been born king of the Jews” i.e. Jesus. Herod ordered all boys in Bethlehem and vicinity under the age of two to be killed.
Alexei and Noelle came up to me and asked what I was doing. I told them I was talking to a spirit, possibly Herod. They were like, “Yeah, right.”
From then on, those two just mocked the hell out of me. I loved it. It made me laugh, kept things light, kept me humble and gave me good experience for the possible mocking that would come out when my book goes on sale. Yeah, this is great!
After Herodium, we headed to Bethlehem. When we got to the road that we hoped lead inside, we saw one of those red warning signs we had seen at Hebron. There were two taxis and a man with some teenage boys standing at the roadside so we stopped to ask for help. The man told us we wouldn’t be able to drive our car into Bethlehem because it had Jewish plates on it and this was Palestinian territory. He said we would have to take a taxi.
Wow, really! The taxi driver, though, said it would be okay if we followed him and then another taxi to our destination. So we did. All went well and we arrived at the Church of the Nativity. This church was built over the cave that tradition says is the birthplace of Jesus and is considered holy by Christians and followers of Islam.
(Picture from Wikipedia)
I have to say, it felt very cool to be there, kneel, and look down into the hole of the Silver Star that is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus:
When we left the church and headed toward our car, Alexei led us into a store selling souvenirs. This is where we met George, the owner of the shop. I bought a couple of things and told George one was for my Dad and one for my Aunt. He smiled and seemed to like that. I walked out of the store and waited for Noelle and Alexei. They were buying things and talking to George. I found some more things to buy outside and went back inside to pay for them. George had come out from behind his counter. When our shopping was done, he gave each of us a gift from him; just a simple wooden ornament, but I felt they were filled with so much warmth and love. As we were saying goodbye, he took my hand and gave me a blessing. I didn’t understand all he said, but I felt the energy in it and I loved it.
When we walked out Alexei said, “You are starting to rub off on me, Linda. Usually, I just go to the first store I see, but, I felt drawn to this store and to George. I’m glad I listened to my intuition. I have never met someone with so much Grace.” It was awesome.
Next on our trip was Masada. I didn’t know anything about Masada except that it was a place that Jews had held out against the Romans. I had avoided reading about it, because from the time I knew we would be travelling to Israel, I had a very strong urge to go to Masada and I didn’t want to have any preconceived ideas about it. I wanted to experience it, instead.
BUT, first, we had to get there! It was going to be a several hour ride. As we settled in, Noelle decided to take a nap; Alexei was being quiet to help promote her rest; and I took the opportunity to reflect about my experience at Herodium and what it might portend.
It wasn’t the first time I’d had a strange experience at a particular “place”. The first time was in 1997 when Lee and I were living in Oaxaca, Mexico and we were visiting the ruins of Monte Alban. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I decided to mediate while Lee wandered about.
I had reached a peaceful zone in my meditation when, suddenly, in my mind’s eye I could see lights shooting up from the ground and into the sky like reversed falling stars. Then a man appeared and said, “Thank you for freeing us.”
What? I opened my eyes; I could see the ruins and superimposed over them I still saw the lights and the guy. I had no clue.
“Umm, okay, you’re welcome.”
He smiled, turned into a light and zipped up to the sky.
A few weeks later we were visiting the ruins of Palenche in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. I had been having a great time walking and climbing around the ruins and pyramids, when I decided to climb to the top of a large pyramid. Half way up, I suddenly felt as if I was being thrown down the stairs. I felt myself rolling to the bottom and I was dead.
I got very dizzy and nauseated and had to sit down. I was also filled with fear. I had to get a grip, but, I had to get off of this pyramid too. I slowly slid my butt down to the next stair and then the next one and that is how I crept off. I didn’t know how to explain this experience. Some people may say it was a past life experience, some may say I was picking up on something that had happened to someone else in another time. I have no idea.
Last year, 2010, I was in Sedona visiting, among other things, vortexes. I had been having interesting conversations with the energy in the various vortexes, but, the experience that really got me was at Cathedral Rock.
It was the last day of my trip to Sedona. For some unknown reason, I made an unexpected change in my itinerary, cancelled my river kayak trip, and drove to Cathedral Rock.
I wasn’t sure why I had done this and now found myself looking up at this rock and wondering. Suddenly, in my mind, I could see that the top of the largest mass of rocks was all lit up with a beautiful light. I am not a hiker and knew I couldn’t climb up this mountain, but, I decided to just walk on the path at the bottom.
As I started, I saw a young Indian boy of maybe ten sitting at the top of the mountain rock mass. He said, “Good you’re here, come on up.”
“I can’t climb up there, are you kidding?”
“You can do it; come, I am waiting for you. I am so happy you have come back.”
Come back? I don’t know what is going on, but, I feel a pull to climb up that hill. There is a real path only to the foot of the mountain, and then a “trail”, which is not a trail, is marked by stacks of rocks in wire cages. I got to the foot of the mountain and looked up.
Now there is an old Indian man with the boy. “Come, you can do this, we are waiting for you.”
I found my feet starting to climb. Really, I started crawling up that mountain with many breaks for breathing and resting. All the while, I could hear the encouragement from the man and boy. I kept going and at one point near the head of the “trail” I felt and saw that I had crossed an energy wall. Beyond it was a double line of Indians making a path for me to walk through. They were welcoming me and encouraging me to continue to the top of the “trail” which is really at the foot of the huge rocks.
(Picture by Tomas Castelazo)
It was from the top of the huge rock on the right that the light was emanating. I turned away from this and, instead, walked toward the left and to the back of the rocks. At a certain point, I found myself struggling to climb up toward three spires of rock. When I got to the foot of the spires, the wind began to gust and I felt I could be blown off. I quickly sat down. The wind died and I stood up again; the wind gusted again, even stronger. I had to sit down and anchor myself. I was a little afraid, but, determined to get a picture of this place.
“I don’t know what your trip is wind, but I will get a picture.” Oh my God, the wind started blowing and wouldn’t let up. Don’t care. I got my camera out; and, holding on to a boulder with one hand and my leg braced to keep me in place, I quickly shot this picture:
The wind was blowing furiously. I had to lie down to keep myself safe. I slid my body down the rock to get to the safety of the path. A couple of people passed me on their way up and I warned them about the wind, but, I could see when they got to the top there was no wind for them. Later, someone told me this place is called the Saddle and it overlooks the vortex below it. I saw the vortex and it was cool, but, I loved the Saddle more. I love the picture.
I sat on a ledge below the rock with the light. I meditated and found myself in some kind of ceremony at the top where the women were painting white spirals on my body. I can’t remember what else happened there. I spaced it out. Suddenly, I came out of my meditation and without hesitation knew I had to leave. I walked to the head of the “trail”, but, my feet stopped and I looked at the big rock. I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t leave, it was breaking my heart. I started crying. I felt like I had been gone so long and now that I was back, I wanted to stay.
The little boy suddenly was in front of me. “It is okay, mother. It is all right to leave now. We have all gone.”
“I don’t want to leave you again. I have missed you so much.”
“You can come with me.” He turned and started walking toward a light. I followed him and as I passed into the light, I found myself several yards down the trail. I don’t know how I got there, but, I knew I had to keep going. My tears dried, my grief abated and I felt peace.
What just happened here? I don’t know for sure. Was this, too, a past life experience or I was I experiencing something that had happened to someone else in another time again? Or, was I helping a spirit complete a path and make a transition? I don’t know.
As we drove to Masada, I wondered what I would experience there. I knew there was a reason I was going there, just didn’t know what it was.
Alexei’s voice brought me out of my reverie. “Look, there are camels alongside the road. There are baby ones too!” We pulled over and woke up Noelle.
(Picture by Noelle Meluskey)
This blurry picture is by me, but, can you see the babies? (the date on my camera is wrong,sorry.)
Happy, we continued on our way, but, soon we were stopped by an Israeli checkpoint out in the middle of nowhere. They made us take all of our stuff out of the car and wait while their dog did a sniff search. However, the dog just wanted to play with his toy and his handler was having a hard time getting him to focus. When they were finally done, our belongings were sent through a security machine and then one of the women started pulling Alexei’s pack apart. She seemed friendly and asked me where I got my burnoose. I told her from a Bedouin. I must have said thank you or some word in Arabic because she asked where I had learned Arabic. I pointed at Alexei and said, “From him.” Alexei rolled his eyes and she started questioning him. I realized that this woman was not being friendly, she was interrogating us. So, I played a dumb tourist and brought her attention back to my burnoose. “I think it looks good; don’t you agree?” She laughed and agreed. Then I said, “Todah” which, I think, is Hebrew for thank you. Finally, they let us go. I noticed, again, they didn’t go through my stuff.
We continued on our way and soon ran across two young couples stranded in the desert. Their tire was flat and they didn’t know how to work the jack. Alexei, being the sweetheart that he is, changed the flat for them.
And, once again, we were on our way to Masada. By now I know we will not make it there before it closes to the public. It’s okay; I trust Love and know that whatever is best is what will happen.
We round a bend in the road and, finally…Masada:
Standing at the roadside and looking at this place in the distance, I realized, hey, I don’t need to be there to say, “Hello” to the energy there.
A woman is there. She laments, “I have to stay here. This is where my children died.”
Behind her I see a lighted doorway appear and two kids, a boy and a girl, come out of the light. “Who are they?” I ask.
“My children!” She runs to them, holds them, then takes their hands, and they walk into the lit doorway.
Suddenly I see more lights, similar to the ones on Monte Alban, but they are not leaving the ground. I can hear whispering, “She left; she is free!” But, no one moves or shows themselves to me. I keep saying “Hello” to the various lights but they will not respond directly to me.
As I look around, I notice a dark area at the head of Masada, at the narrow part on top. I start saying “Hello” to this place. Soon the blackness dissolves and a man is revealed. I can see he is very passionate and very intense.
He loudly declares, “We are not leaving. This is OUR place!”
Uh oh, Linda, what are you going to say now? I dunno. Breathe.
“I understand; you are not leaving. Uhmm. Hey, did you know that Israel is a state now? You do have a land that is your own. You accomplished what you wanted.”
His gaze pierced mine. “This is true?”
“Yes, it is. You did your part in helping to create this. This very place where you resisted the Romans is considered to be a very special place by your countrymen. You did your job. If you want to, you can move on now.”
He stared at me for a bit then turned toward the mass of lights that where there. He yelled, “We did it! You are free to leave.”
Zip, zip; lights began shooting to a lit doorway that had appeared again. When they were all gone, I saw this man square his shoulders and walk through too.
As I am writing this in my blog, I googled Masada and found that after Rome had destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE, the surviving Zealots fled to the fortress of Masada. They held out for three years against the Roman soldiers who held them in siege. As the 960 defenders of Masada watched the Romans continue to build new weapons and ways to attack them, they knew the Romans would eventually reach them. Their leader, Elazar ben Yair decided that they should all commit suicide. I am going to write a quote of Elazar’s speech obtained from the Jewish virtual library:
“Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice…We were the very first that revolted [against Rome], and we are the last that fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom. Let our wives die before they are abused, and our children before they have tasted of slavery, and after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually.” Elazar then ordered that all the Jew’s possessions except for food be destroyed, for “the food will be a testimonial when we are dead that we were not subdued for want of necessities; but that, according to our original resolution, we preferred death before slavery.”
And so it was.
As I stood on the roadside and watched the lights leave Masada, I said, “Thank you Love for this gift you have given me and for how you use it. I am grateful. I don’t always understand, but I trust you.”
I didn’t say anything to Alexei or Noelle about my experience; instead, I just began to take pictures…of Noelle taking pictures,
Of the Dead Sea and the area around Masada:
(Picture by Noelle Meluskey)
(Picture by Noelle Meluskey)