Underwater in Israel

Here I stand, bare feet on ancient stone. Looking down at the water…

How did I get here?

It’s 3am in Tsfat, Israel. Dark outside. Full moon over the 4,000 year-old graveyard behind me…

I was on the way home to California from a business trip in London.

Why not a stopover in Israel for 72 hours?

As if by an unseen hand, I was led out of my well-worn hotel room, here in the mountains of Galilee, and down the switchbacks to this holiest of places in this holiest of cities, Tsfat, the light-blue-painted (same color as the Israeli flag and my eyes) city of the Holy Spirit.

And right before me is Yitzak Luria‘s Mikveh (purification pool).

I feel like Indiana Jones, except there is no khaki or wide-brimmed hat…I am as naked as the day I was born, no barrier, coram Deo. Even my watch and wedding ring have been taken off.

Just me. Just God. Just now.

My name, David, which never made much sense to me, seems oddly right for, perhaps, the first time ever. I have cultivated nicknames all my life. I think of the double delta of David’s monogram (first and last letters of his name)…

I think back over the last 48 hours here in Galilee.

Invited into the back rooms of synagogues…

Rabbis pointing through the texts of “secret books” in Hebrew and asking questions….

  • How did you learn Hebrew?
  • Your name is David, are you sure you aren’t Jewish? You look Russian…
  • Where do you sense the presence of God here in Tsfat? Where is that feeling the strongest?
  • What are you doing here?

I did not choose to stand here. I’m not even sure what a mikveh is…I was led here…

I need answers to three questions. Just two days ago, I wrote those questions on a tiny slip of paper, rolled it up, and placed it in the Western Wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem at sunrise. My forehead against the cool ancient stone, my palms up high, time collapsed…the better part of an hour evaporated like the morning fog…

It is dark outside. Not even the roosters have begun to crow…

I slide into the biting cold of the fresh spring water, holding the pole and stepping down the ancient steps. I breathe deeply and submerge….

The world disappears.

I pull my knees up against my chest, going fetal in this small womb-tomb of chilly spring water.

Duck Dive

An avid surfer, I am used to being underwater and I gently roll backwards….

A glow emanates from nowhere and everywhere. I open my eyes underwater to confirm the experience, but the light vanishes…

I come up for air twice and submerge again. The glow returns, and I feel enveloped in the Khesed-love of the Creator. Answers come to me faster than I can receive them.

I generate a will to receive.

Something shifts around me. The third time under turns into a dream. I feel as if I am breathing underwater. The glow gets warm.

All of my theological legalisms about “correct” baptism vanish and dissolve into an ocean of God’s presence.

As I climb out and dry off, my soul comes to total rest. I will walk for hours until the hilltop town awakens. Like an old snakeskin, I have shed something. A new season is starting…

Where is your “mikveh” where you take off everything in the presence of God?

When’s the last time you were there….?

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6 thoughts on “Underwater in Israel. The Mikveh in Tsfat.”

  1. a mountain top experience NOW go and tell on the mountain and IN THE VALLEY- the waves will take it inland THIS LAND IS MY LAND this LAND is YOUR LAND from the ……………………..

  2. Perfect. I want to hear more. I’m sensing gold in the questions put before you…
    -How did you learn Hebrew?
    -Your name is David, are you sure you aren’t Jewish? You look Russian…
    -Where do you sense the presence of God here in Tsfat? -Where is that feeling the strongest?
    -What are you doing here?

  3. What a poetic beautiful description of an inexplicable and awesome experience. So real it is imprinted on your soul.

      1. Yo said you are still sorting it out after two years…..you may spend many many years trying to sort it out. Maybe don’t try, just accept the mystery and the awe!

        I had an experience during a worship conference in 1995 at the Anaheim Vineyard that I can’t forget, nor do I ever want to. Out of body experience, caught in a mighty river of God–knocked down with the rushing water, another dimension of reality. Tried to figure it out for a very long time, but now just remembering it very vividly and am grateful for that experience. Too wonderful to describe adequately.

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