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The Promise of a Green Shoot

January 2, 2024

The work of rehabilitation is usually a slow painstaking process, where progress is invisible day to day, and only shows week to week or more often, month to month.

So with the work of nurturing plants.

M., a member of the Givati Brigade, was injured in Gaza and needs neurological rehabilitation.

To pass the time, to give him a positive focus, to provide a hobby for the weeks and months of hard work ahead, he began to nurture plant cuttings. Most he collected from the Sheba grounds. Visitors also brought him plants and fellow patients at Sheba shared their green gifts with him. And so he began the slow, patient work of propagating life, building on what he was given, coaxing a plant to become a bigger, more expansive, flowering version of itself.

M. was soon joined by a roommate at Sheba, also recovering from a neurological battle injury. His roommate is a Muslim Israeli Arab, who was not called to reserve duty, but volunteered on Oct. 7. He was also injured in the battle for Gaza. He points out that their shared fate has led them to share their backgrounds, discuss their differences, and speculate about peace. Brothers in arms, brothers in injury, brothers in healing, together they nurture burgeoning life.

The activity and staying busy actually helps speed and improve neurological recovery, in addition to making for a beautiful hospital room balcony. The collection has begun to draw the attention of other patients, visitors and staff who come to see the botanical collection, and perhaps leave with a small gift. And so life, the promise of spring regrowth, begins to spread. And M. now dreams of teaching a gardening course.

The enormity, suddenness and scale of a vicious and ongoing attack will leave hundreds of thousands of individual stories untold and unshared. And there will be thousands of untold and unknown stories of a healing touch at Sheba, the work of a skilled therapist, the brilliance of a physician, the determination and sweat of a recovering patient. This is just the story of two, but represents the journey of many.

Together these Israeli comrades, one Jewish and one Muslim Arab, heal themselves, heal one another, and nurture life.

The writer Richard Ford said: “Love isn’t a thing. It is, after all, an endless series of individual acts.”

In nurturing a tiny green shoot. In healing a damaged body. In finding common ground. In raising Israel back up from the pain and damage.

Each day, an endless series of individual acts will be our love. Will show that we are family. And together we will each do our part to create glossy blossoms from the dark, sad winter we now share.

And blossom we all shall.

P.S.: You may have noticed that we often do not show the faces of injured soldiers. This is at the request of the IDF for security reasons. We just have to imagine the smiles, the determination in the gaze, the warmth of hope for the future.

Published in AFSMC Weekly Newsletter, December 29, 2023

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