Column: Barry White at the Dead Sea

You’ve probably heard the term “signs and wonders.” I’m a huge believer in signs. As it happens, I had an off-the-charts sign when Harvey and I were at the Dead Sea in Israel recently. It came on the heels of a medical incident that had me worrying non-stop about Harvey. I was in a constant state of anxiety and couldn’t find my way to joy and happiness, I was so preoccupied with the possibility of future incidents. Even when astounding beauty was staring me in the face, I still couldn’t put aside my constant apprehension.

Then it happened.

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After a couple of hours touring Masada, a fortress built on the rocky cliffs of the Negev Desert, and fretting over Harvey’s every step, our tour continued on to the Dead Sea. Now that is a sight to behold. Being the lowest place on earth, at over 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is also known as the Salt Sea. It contains so much salt and so many minerals that nothing can survive in it. And it’s impossible to swim in it because the high salt content makes you so buoyant. But can you ever float!! You can actually lay back and read a newspaper in the Dead Sea, bobbing up and down like a big cork.

The mud that forms on the bottom of the Dead Sea has lots of minerals in it that are said to have restorative and healing properties. Before we went in the water, we smeared Dead Sea mud all over each other (we’re not weird; that’s what everyone does). You let it dry in the hot sun, and then you wash it off in the Dead Sea. It’s a greasy, brown, hot mess when it goes on, but your skin feels like velvet when it comes off.

This is exactly when the “sign” happened that pulled me out of my fear and anxiety about Harvey (at least momentarily). As I was smearing mud all over him, he said “Listen!” I stopped for a moment and coming out of the lifeguard’s loudspeaker was the Barry White song “You’re my first, my last, my everything.” The song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding nine years ago! We both laughed like crazy, and for that moment, all was right with the world. For me it was a sign that I need to lighten up and celebrate the joys in life, whether they were big or small. It was a powerful reminder that I must keep life in perspective and remember that nothing is all one thing, or all another. I need to rejoice in every moment of happiness and bliss that comes my way.

Filing this under the category of “Life’s too short to be fearful all the time”, I learned my lesson.

And I have very smooth skin.

Shelley Civkin, the retired “Face of Richmond,” was a Librarian & Communications Officer at Richmond Public Library for nearly 30 years, and author of a weekly book review column for 17 years.

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