Monday was Memorial Day in Israel. It is a day where soldiers killed in wars as well as casualties of terrorist attacks are remembered.
It’s a day that I’d rather avoid – a somber 24 hour period where a siren is sounded throughout the country for 2 minutes at 11 in the morning.
For those 120 seconds, the entire country comes to a stand still.
I happened to be on a sherut (a mini-bus), with a huge mess of flowers that i had just bought at the open market. I was hoping to make it home before the 11am siren but I didn’t.
As soon as its plaintive wail began, the driver stopped the bus – opened his window and stuck his head out. I, along with a few other people, walked to the front of the bus. Out on the street, it was like a movie set. People standing outside of their cars- still -with head bents or gazing towards the sea.
The entire country was in prayer.
As I listened to the mournful cry of the siren, I experienced tremendous sadness and grief and silently wept in my soul. Tears streamed down my face.
When I returned to my seat, I felt the heaviness that this group’s consciousness was still shouldering – all 66 years of soldiers lost in wars and citizens killed in acts of terrorism.
I spontaneously said: “Who would like a flower?”
I heard a voice respond with: “Why not? Especially on such a day.”
A middle aged man sitting immediately behind me had spoken these words. As I handed him the flowers, I noticed a young woman across from him smiling at me. I gave her some flowers. And so it continued, until half the people on the mini- bus were holding small clusters of yellow like daisy flowers.
I give out flowers a few times a week through my project Give A Flower, Get A Smile. Usually when I offer flowers to someone on a bus, perhaps one person will accept while others look the other way, closing off to the possibility of connecting. Even for one moment.
But something about those 2 minutes of prayer and paying respect to lives lost transformed the energy on the bus. This shared experience opened our hearts.
The giving and receiving of the flowers was just a reminder of the profound need and desire for humans to connect with each other.
Not through texting, e-mailing, or skyping. But face to face. Up close and personal.