Oh Jerusalem

• 28 August 2012



Have you ever unexpectedly stumbled upon something that moved you instantly?  To the point where life stopped for a moment and you mentally traveled back in time--for just a moment--to a place you visited earlier in your life?  Perhaps you lost your breath for a second or two...or your eyes teared up momentarily.  But whatever your reaction, your mind reignited with memories you hadn't entertained for quite some time.

Well, this strange and infrequent circumstance happened upon me yesterday.  I sat down for a few minutes of reading after putting my kids down for naps and quiet time--the time when I regroup for the remainder of the day.  I was casually glancing through a magazine, in need of something light, as I was simulataneously processing the week's expanding to-do list (we are moving Monday!).  I turned the page and saw the above image and felt instantly drawn back to a place I felt deeply connected to.  Just like that.  Memories from my 19-year-old self surfaced and all of a sudden I didn't live in Seattle anymore.  I was in Jerusalem.



You see, I've been around a little (more than some, less than others), but I haven't always felt connected to my surroundings or to the places I've lived.  Surprisingly, I've felt more at home in a place where I resided 2 months, than a place I lived 8+ years.  For me, longevity isn't a factor.  It's more about a soul feeling at ease, at home; and I instantly felt at home in Jerusalem.  Does any of this sound familiar to you or are you thinking, `girl, you are out there?!'.

Have you ever had a similar experience?  If so, where were you and why do you think you felt the way you did?  I'd love to hear about it, if you're comfortable sharing here.


Here are a couple of links for you if you're keen on more images:

* additional images of the university here (snapped by Mark Philbrick).

* an interesting article in the NYT sharing one man's experience reluctantly getting lost in Jerusalem.

* beautiful images of the Old City by George Henton--particularly this one and this one.  The Wailing Wall holds a special place in my heart.  In fact, George's entire flickr stream is mighty interesting if you're following political unrest in the world.

34 comments:

Jenny said...

good luck with your move. I live over on the eastside but love magnolia. Hopefully you'll have similar feelings of "home" with this move as you did in Jerusalem.

Bornali Shade said...

Oh yes, I can totally relate. I've lived all over, but the one place that is my soul space, the place where I want my ashes scattered, is the Black Hills/Badlands area of South Dakota. Far, far, far away - in miles and in personality - from my current and much-loved home of London.... But I will always yearn for my home of one year on the western edge of SD.

brooke field said...

I had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem for a few weeks with a dear friend. We first went on an LDS tour (and got to attend a musical performance one night at the university), then traveled around on our own for a week or so which was just marvelous and I leaned so much from the land. Such a wonderful place!

Martha said...

Love this post. I didn't feel really connected or at peace in the place that I grew up, just restless for what I thought was so much more exciting. I left for 10 years and now live here again raising my children. Our lives here are so easy and simple and I see my kids playing in the parks I played in...there is nowhere else I could feel this rooted.

Liz said...

Oh these photos bring back wonderful memories for me, as well. The summer of 2000 in Jerusalem. Nothing like it. "Home".
It IS interesting what "home" feels like to most of us. You're moving? I hope not too far. P.M. where!
Good luck. Even moving next-door is not an easy feat. :)
xoxo

xaviesh said...

For me personally its Iceland! Where food is organic by default and kids can play by themselves with no fear with no supervision at playgrounds for hours. I prefer not to be cold, but I wouldnt think twice about moving there!

MCC said...

I felt that way in Madrid. It was as if my soul was home. I didn't feel like a stranger, or a tourist, I felt a true and palpable sense of peace and belonging...

Erika said...

I know this feeling. I feel it for Cape Town, South Africa.

marian said...

Oh wow, I'm now homesick for the center's library - my favorite room in that whole incredible building. Thanks for taking me back for a moment and happy moving next week!

Emily Foley said...

Paris. I went last year for the first time and was there for less than a week, but I felt home.

I was accepted into the Jerusalem Center my sophomore year along with my sister (summer term) but my dad wouldn't let us go. To this day I feel sick when I think about what I missed. My oldest sister went and I love to hear her stories. My parents and brother took a trip there a few years ago, a month-long trip, and my dad actually called me from the Jerusalem Center and apologized for not letting us go. Too little, too late, Dad! :)

Emily Foley said...

(And Liz, it was the summer of 2000 that I was supposed to go. We could have been friends! :)

Life is Good said...

Yes, I felt this way when I studied abroad in London with BYU. It felt like I was home, when in fact it was the first time I had ever traveled there. It will always hold a very special place in my heart.

ambrosia said...

I understand what you mean! It's so strange that I've never had anyone share this same feeling...I thought I was the only one.
I visited Ireland on a whim with a friend and instantly felt the overwhelming feeling of home. It's so hard to describe. The feeling was so strong that just a few years later, my husband and I honeymooned in Ireland so I could introduce the place that meant so much to me.
Now, a few years and many travels later, I've visited and lived to various places around the world that are much more extravagant and beautiful but none hold a place in my heart like Ireland!

Amber
midwifemom.wordpress.com

Carrie said...

Columbus, Ga. My husband and I started our life there in that city--bought our first house, had family near by, brought our first child home etc. Every time we travel back to visit for the holidays I FEEL such sweet memories (although there were also bitter in those 5 years:) Ha! There's just something about the South that makes me go all "Gone with the Wind"-ish...

Marlena said...

Oh we were so enjoying your reports from Seattle! Where are you off to now? I'm sure wherever it is, you will make the most of it and find great beauty and fun too.

Emily Peck said...

oh goodness, i can so relate. i feel like this with venice, italy. it hits my heart so hard - i can't even put it into words but instead i just rush back to being there and what it felt like. Save moving travels!! Will you still be in Seattle? I hope so!

Jennifer said...

My grandmother's home in Essen, Germany. I can smell it right now. I always felt at home there and long for it. Even though the visits were few and far between.

engquist said...

I had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem for a day about two months ago and it totally changed my life. But I can completely relate to an instantaneous sense of home. When my husband and I found out we were moving to Cyprus, it felt like the far side of the moon. Within weeks we felt so at ease and comfortable there. I really loathe the idea of leaving our little island someday, even though it is inevitable. It is just so welcoming and full of wonderful memories for me.

http://www.seewhatiseadesigns.com/2012/06/day-trip-to-israel.html

Martha said...

seattle actually makes me feel that way. it's so quirky and melancholy, it just clicks for me for some reason.

nancykate said...

I yearn to return to Italy as soon as I leave, especially the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany. If my family wasn't here, I'd be there.

Rand & Leah said...

When I saw these pics I recognized them immediately- my husband went the Jerusalem center with BYU in the fall of 1996. When were you there?

We moved back to the US last summer from Germany where we had the great opportunity to reside for 3 years. I still get homesick looking at pictures from our travels. I definitely left part of my heart there and would not trade those years for anything in the world.

Leah

Leslie said...

San Francisco was that for me.

Andrea said...

I visited England for two weeks when I was a junior in college. Bath, Lyme Regis, Stratford on Avon, and London. I would've been tempted to stay forever if I hadn't left my sweetheart back home (he proposed not long after I returned).

Sharmyn said...

Jerusalem will always be my most favorite city in the world. Sometimes I miss it so much. Wandering the streets in old town, feeling the peace that the land holds even if its inhabits don't, eating pomelos. I want to sell everything and live there for the rest of my life listening to Palestinian music and soaking in the holiness.

Sharon Fischel said...

Oh how I felt that way in Jerusalem... I was there for 3 days in 1999. I knew instantly that I could live there. I'd been to Tel Aviv, and several other cities, but Jerusalem stole my heart.

kalanicut said...

Riding old black 3-spreed bike with basket, in a chunky sweater, clogs, in misty rain alongside the green fields of Scandinavia. Love. Another day sticking our heads out the windows of the train singing the Danish national anthem at the top of our lungs and the train flew past the rolling green hills. Good days.

emily o. said...

Absolutely. For me, that place is Thailand. I went once for two weeks, then went back the next summer and stayed for 2 months. It's amazing how one can feel so connected after such a short amount of time. It's been 8 years since I have been there, but when I see photos, I am immediately transported back to the place (and people) I love! My heart aches to go back.

Amber said...

Something similar happened to me just last week! Back when I was in high school (SO MANY years ago!), my best friend was my cousin Eric. He was a rebellious soul and lived for a time in his old yellow mustang, I would hang out with him in that mustang and we would drive around with the windows down, listening to Nirvana and trying to figure out life. Eventually our lives parted ways and we live thousands of miles apart now and in very different worlds. But last week I clicked over to my iTunes account and somehow stumbled on some Nirvana songs that I haven't listened to for 16 years. As soon as the music started to play, the memory of driving around in Eric's old Mustang came rushing back to me, so real I could actually smell the marijuana he used to smoke, the memories were so tangible. It made me realize that the experiences we have in this life are not by chance, and that it's so important to choose them wisely.

sallyavena said...

Reading through the comments, I find it interesting that a lot of them are about a time they traveled abroad on their own. Wonder what the connection is? For me it is the same thing...riding my bike on bike paths around a city instantly takes me back to my time as an exchange student in Hamburg, Germany. A time that I felt so disoriented yet so at home at the same time. I went as a shy 16 year old and came back as a confident young woman. It was life changing for me and those feelings associated with that year come back to me at interesting times that are always unexpected.

Stephanie said...

Friends! I am thoroughly enjoying each of your stories. I love to know that others out there feel the same as I do. I am not a super sentimental person, but there are certain experiences and places that tug on my heart strings like no other. And this is where I feel at home.

I am so grateful you took a moment to share your thoughts as well. Thank you all!

alipyper said...

Hi Stephanie,
I celebrated my 18th birthday at the Jerusalem Center in 1990. I had just graduated from high school and my first trip abroad was for a summer semester there. The images you posted on your blog transported me too! The food! The smells! The Old City! The bazaars! And my amazing room mates and incredible professors. I attended my very first Relief Society meeting in the auditorium and all of the women's voices singing together sounded like a heavenly choir of angels to me. Thank you for posting these pictures and reminding me of the life changing experiences I had there 22 years ago.

Anonymous said...

hi, im an israeli who lives in jerusalem and reads your blog for such a long time. are you coming here? i'll love to help and to show you all around
joe

Lindsay said...

YES, this happens to me a lot. Even a smell or a song can evoke powerful memories and bring me to tears. I felt at home in Italy where I stayed for 4 months and then when I visited a couple years later, it was like I was returning home, it just did. I felt true love for people and places there...I think its bc my dad had served his mission there and so the people I knew loved him (and maybe me too) as well, so it was kind of family-like. I got accepted into BYU Israel and was so excited to go but they closed it last minute! I went to BYU Hawaii instead! :)

Stephanie said...

Alipyper, I am so glad you enjoyed stepping back for a minute. We all need to do that more!

Anon, I wish I was coming soon to Jerusalem. I would love to visit.

Lindsay, Italy is truly an amazing country. So fun that you have connections there.

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