It was a simple box, small in nature. Not much larger than the expanse of my hand.
But oh what a precious gift!
My daughter had spent the last 3 months in Israel, taking part in a study abroad class. Touring many famous historical sights, and documenting her journey in words and photos posted on social media, it had been obvious that Israel was wrapped around her heart.
After arriving home, she asked if we could gather as a family, in order to share some gifts that she had brought home for us. She beamed with joy, telling us stories about new friendships forged, lessons learned, and places traveled.
My Rachel loves to travel.
As children finish their teen years, they are naturally eager to leave the nest. Sometimes this passion takes form as a desire to see all the world has to offer. Sometimes the reason to leave is stated simply as a need to get as far away from home as possible. The thirst to be anywhere but home. I have heard each of these yearnings in all of their glory. Or fury.
Opening the box, I saw pebbles, rocks, leaves, shells, and other artifacts from the places she had visited. She labeled each one, often with the date she had been there.
Memories flooded me as I cradled each one slowly, remembering the pictures she had posted on social media on the days she visited each site.
Little did I know know, each of those days, she was collecting these little items for me.
Not only was her heart set on Israel, but I was always on her heart.
What more could a father ask for?
Thousands of miles away, we were still as close as a memory, or a pebble, or a leaf. Items that she held in her hand, to share with her family that she held in her heart. A precious string of memories given by my precious gift of a daughter.