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Episode Info: On a beautiful late October afternoon, I visited Ein Karem, Israel. It was one of those perfect autumn days—sunny, no jacket needed, but with the hint of cooler temperatures. My friends and I walked through the hilly ancient town in the suburbs of Jerusalem exploring and talking about all that this town has seen–from the biblical story of the visitation of Mary and Elizabeth to the burning of ancient olive groves as Palestinian farmers were displaced, to a quaint and thriving artist’s colony. After visiting the Church of the Visitation and enjoying a delicious Israeli lunch, we walked up a hill to a small convent. As we wandered the gardens, looking at the valleys and terraced hills surrounding the town, we stopped at an ancient cistern built hundreds of years before. My new friend Eli, a native of Jerusalem, talked about these cisterns, still scattered throughout the region. When families and communities would move and settle a village, the first order of business was to build a cistern. Some were for family use and looked like a large planter pot, but the particular one by which we were standing was large, reminding me of a small swimming pool, and would have been for community use. Cisterns gather rainwater, not only for daily cooking and cleaning, but also for the inevitable times of drought. The large basins would keep crops alive, livestock quenched, and families with the necessary water to continue daily chores. It took planning and preparation to build the cistern—let the rains slowly gather in it, use the water enough to keep it from growing murky, and still ration some for the heat of summer. As I observe the history around me, I wonder if farmers just wanted to get on with the business of planting olive groves and depend solely on rainfall to keep them nourished. Building something for a non-rainy day takes time and energy that can be placed in a more tangible practice. I’ve always viewed my world more as a series of well-planned lessons rather than a winding adventure. I’d like to blame my training as an elementary teacher, but this way of compartmentalizing ages and experiences has always been part of my nature. Cognitively, I know that life doesn’t work this way, but hope springs eternal as I try to map past and future experiences and expectations. I’ve been home for months now and that cistern has stayed with me. My youngest starts full-day kindergarten next year and I’ve gotten the range of questions and observations about how I’ll spend all of my free time. Our family is approaching a time of transition, regardless of how my personal days will look. It will be a change having both of my girls in the same place and on the same schedule for most of the day. What I’m remembering is that now is not necessarily the time to plant the trees or look forward to the harvest. Now is the time to focus on the cistern.  What am I constructing for this next season that will sustain us through the transition?  What practi...
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