Hello out there,
It’s nice to be back! In case you are new to this blog, I just returned on Thursday from a twenty-five day teen trip to Israel that expanded my brain, taught me a thing or two about the holy land (and about b.o. as a major world issue!), and at times tested my physical and emotional limits. While the trip was awesome overall and a lot of fun, it was also my first time outside the U.S., the longest time I’ve ever spent away from my family, and many times I was presented with challenges I didn’t think I could overcome, like climbing Masada and descending into the Tunnel of Hezekiah.
I suffer from claustrophobia. Apparently the ancient Hebrews did not, for at one time King Hezekiah ordered a deep, dark tunnel to be dug beneath the City of David to reach an underground water source. Before traveling to Israel, I’d read about this tunnel, how it was dug by two groups of workers at two starting points, and they used a complex system of signals to ensure the two tunnels would meet and merge into one.
According to the fictional book The Source by James A. Michener, the two paths were off from each other until one of the diggers realized the other had strayed and enlarged the tunnel at the middle to encompass the divergent path and preserve the mistaken one’s dignity. I was interested to see what this tunnel looked like in person – until I reached the entrance and saw a long, steep flight of slippery stairs leading to a tiny, cramped hole of blackness.
Could I turn back? Already I was marching down the stairs, herded by the wave of tourists that had come along with my educational group. The human current pushed me down, down, down, and I resigned myself to making my slow way towards the source of my fear, clutching the rusty banister for dear life.
The stairs seemed to extend forever. When I finally reached the bottom, there was the mouth of the tunnel gaping at me. From the light emitting from a few lamps within, as well as all the cell phones blaring from the tourists around me, I could see a little clear, rushing waterfall leading the way from the ground on which I stood down into the black hole, which was hardly tall or wide enough for a modern person to comfortably fit into. My fellow group members ahead of me scrunched down and stepped inside, instantly vanishing. I could feel the impatient stirrings of the tourists behind me. It was now or never.
I sucked in a deep breath, then took one step onto the rushing water. I expected to be carried away by the current, but it was really just a nice jet of water like a cold, mucky jacuzzi massaging my ankle. I took another step in and crouched down to be swallowed by the tunnel.
Following the footsteps of the people ahead of me, I navigated my way through the space which seemed infinitely too small. The rough rock walls seemed to be closing in on me, and I was sure the rushing water would sweep me under.
As the minutes passed, I marched onward and presently found the fear and anxiety growing dull. I became aware of the gentle coolness of the water washing over my feet; surely this water was too calm to knock me over. I began to move forward more confidently, clutching the glowstick I’d been issued at the front to my heart – I didn’t need light to find my way.
The space in the tunnel widened, then constricted again at different points. But I was no longer scared – I was intrigued, excited to move forward (so much so that at one point I bumped my head.)
But I didn’t let that phase me. I continued on, noticing how the path took a sudden haphazard turn – that must be the point where the two diggers met and adjusted for the miscalculations of one.
When I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I was happy to arrive at the end. But as I emerged into the fresh air again, I was not merely glad the ordeal was over. I was piqued with fascination with the history of this land I found myself in on an unprecedented 25-day adventure.
25 days later, I got on a plane bound for home, after an experience I will never forget. I had lots of adventures and tried lots of new things in Israel, many of which I would have been too afraid to do if I hadn’t been forced into it. As the plane took off I knew I had come to the end of a long tunnel – I was going home. But as part of being in the “tunnel” of being away, my horizons had actually broadened, not narrowed like the walls of a tunnel. In the darkness I had found light: I had become enlightened about many modern and ancient aspects of Israel that I didn’t know before, and I had also caught glimpses of the inner light inside of me that powered me to keep going during the hard moments of the trip.
Now that I’ve come to the end of the tunnel, I am inspired to take the lessons I learned inside about my culture, my planet, and myself, and use them in my life here in the states. Some of these lessons are deep and profound, and maybe I’ll post more on them in later writings if the jet-lag ever wears off. Some of them are lighter and seemingly insignificant – for instance, in Israel I saw a lot of interesting ideas for foods that inspired me to make some different things at home. Some of the ideas I had are based on traditional Israeli fare, some on the American-ized junk food that was accessible everywhere we went, and some just from random inspiration that hit me while traversing the holy land.
The first recipe I’m posting here, I made a couple days after returning home. It is inspired by the quiche that was served as a breakfast at several of the hostels our group stayed at. I didn’t try the sad, stale-looking concoctions languishing in the buffet troughs during the trip, but the idea of quiche appealed to me. So when I got home I picked up some fresh, reliable ingredients to make my own!
These Italian Veggie Quiche Muffins are quick to make, and are sure to be even quicker to disappear from your family breakfast table! And since they’re packed with fresh vegetables and lack a carb-y crust, each is a healthy and relatively low-calorie option to fit into a nutritious breakfast. Scrumptious and satisfying, served warm with melty cheese and pesto sauce gracing bites of baked egg and flavorful veggie morsels, these delicious and nutritious savory muffins are a perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch.
Are you hungry? Well, get ready for the light at the end of that tunnel! Click here for some yummy Italian Veggie Quiche Muffins for you, family and friends to enjoy.
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