answering the unknown

When  a phone call comes in on our home phone and is reading “Unknown” on Caller ID, we have a well-chosen path of not answering it until the party identifies itself. And usually, the identity is a click of the hanging up. I’ve always considered the answering machine and the Caller ID the best inventions ever, at least for our household. But lately, I have found that it is more useful to answer the unknown. We have been getting many phone calls from Israel that read that way. And so I willingly answer the unknown before the click of disconnect, or even the moment of message that is too brief to answer.

But isn’t it a wonderful metaphor for what I am doing, this leap into the unknown?

Israel isn’t really a complete unknown, of course. I have been there many times, too many to count easily. I could refer to my Nefesh B’Nefesh and Jewish Agency documents, where one is required to list exactly when you have been to Israel during the last seven years. But you get the picture. I have lived there, also, but that was 40 years ago. And that was as a student. So, yes, this is unknown territory, in a matter of speaking.

And yet, really, we move through life from the unknown to the known always.

The Learner must be led always from familiar objects toward the unfamiliar, guided along, as it were, a chain of flowers into the mysteries of life.

Charles Wilson Peale

I saw that quote so many years ago at a museum of some sort. I wrote it down in a little brown notebook I always had with me, predating smart phones and most likely even cellphones.

In preparation for this move, I have already thrown out the notes in this notebook. I remember how I wrote it down, though, with squiggles all around it, pointing out how significant that quote was supposed to be. I will admit that I am impressed with myself that I remembered the basic gist of the quote and even who wrote it.

I had not remembered the flowers.

Now I’m even more impressed.


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